The 2-seed Wisconsin Badgers absolutely dismantled the 15-seed American University Eagles Thursday afternoon 75-35. That’s right, the Badgers won their opening game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament by 40 points; good for a school record.
Wisconsin’s dominating performance included an unprecedented 60-9 run (Wow!), belittling the Eagles with each passing moment. The first six minutes of the game actually were quite shaky and Wisconsin trailed 17-10 at one point. But clearly, it was all uphill from there.
On to the round of 32.
The Badgers’ next victim?…I mean, opponent: The 7-seed Oregon Ducks.
I joke, the Ducks are a talented squad and this will by no means be an easy game. But, if the Badgers play their game, the way they are capable of playing, they will walk away with a victory. The Badgers are the far superior team but they must stay true to their game and stay focused. Oregon is a trendy pick to upset the Badgers. Haters gonna hate. Winner dances its way into the Sweet 16.
But it is true, Wisconsin can’t afford to start slow against the Ducks like they did in the second round against American.
Oregon is one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, 11th to be exact, averaging 81.8 PPG on the year. That’s nothing to scoff at. Not to mention, the Ducks started the year 13-0 and, impressively, put together another eight-game winning streak in conference play. Any team that can pull those streaks off are a dangerous team.
The Ducks’ opening round match pitted them against the 10-seed BYU Cougars. BYU cut into Oregon’s lead in the second half, but then the Ducks pulled away for the 87-68 victory. They used their athleticism and speed to overwhelm the Cougars as the game raged on. Seriously, this team is athletic.
Wisconsin will have to rely on its staunch defense to slow Oregon’s attack. But mostly, the Badgers will find themselves in good shape if they don’t turn the ball over — which would create fast breaks for the Ducks. Oregon lives off of the mistakes of their opponents. Avoid those, and Oregon will be forced to play Wisconsin’s game.
Junior guard Joseph Young is the biggest threat that the Ducks possess. Slowing down Young is imperative to the Badgers’ hope to advance to the Sweet 16. Young averages 18.6 PPG on the year and has scored 19, 29 and 19 in his previous three games. Allowing him to get hot from behind the arc could spell disaster for Bucky. He has been known to get in rhythm and hurt teams from three-point land. But, he’s a threat to take you off the dribble and drive if you guard him beyond the three-point line. Thus, he’s the main focus of the Badgers’ defensive plan.
The Badgers also have to look to keep Mike Moser under control. The senior doesn’t want to play his last collegiate game quite yet. Moser is a big threat down low, as he drops an average of 13.5 PPG but does even more damage on the boards. He pulls down 8 rebounds-per-game; I’m looking at you to box out Kaminsky. He will certainly play with a level of passion that only Ben Brust, fellow senior of the Badgers, can understand. Allowing points in the paint has been Wisconsin’s only defensive achilles heel this year, so slowing down Moser will be a major focus. Do so, and Bucky should be fairly comfortable.
Wisconsin won it’s first round game with great balanced scoring; Traevon Jackson 18, Brust 17 and Sam Dekker 11. Against the Ducks, it will take another big group effort. The Badgers’ bench has been getting stronger with each game, this season, and may be called upon in this game. Especially if Moser’s aggressiveness throws Kaminsky into early foul trouble. Watch out for that. And Dekker, who appeared to injure his knee on a collision against American, says he will be ready to play.
Thankfully, the Badgers’ great season earned them the right to play in Milwaukee and the crowd is expected to be 70-80% Wisconsin red again for this contest. The Grateful Red will, once again, make the trip down I-94 to support Bucky in full force. Hopefully the atmosphere, as well as the Badgers’ composure, will keep Oregon out of the game. Wisconsin doesn’t beat themselves and their patience on offense will limit the Ducks’ chances to score quickly. Brust is certainly excited to experience the faux-home crowd again
That crowd was awesome! We’re going to need that Saturday! #oneatatime
— Ben Brust (@BenBrust) March 20, 2014
One at a time indeed, Ben.
I see the Badgers starting quick in this one, unlike against American, and maintaining control despite Oregon’s talent. It will not be a blowout, though. The way I see it: Wisconsin 66 – Oregon 61.
The game will be played on Mar. 22 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee and the time is TBD.
On Wisconsin! Lets keep on dancing! We’re all having too much damn fun to stop yet.