After a very impressive defensive showing by the Wisconsin Badgers in their blowout win over American, they must now transfer that same mind-set when they take on the Oregon Ducks Saturday.
If there’s one thing the Ducks can do, it’s put up points.
Oregon comes in averaging 81.8 points per game, 11th best in the entire country. In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Ducks put up 87 points in the win over the BYU Cougars. Oregon was able to reach the century mark in four games during the regular season.
A big reason why the Ducks are putting up as many points as they do is thanks in part to the play of junior guard Joseph Young. Averaging 18.6 points per game, Young was the third leading scorer in the Pac-12 Conference. Young’s season-high of 36 points came early in the season against Western Carolina, and in the win against the Cougars he scored 19.
Mike Moser, one of the better rebounders in the country, averaged 13.5 points per game as well. Milwaukee native Elgin Cook came off the bench on Thursday and exploded for a career-high 23 points.
There are many ways Oregon can score and Wisconsin must tighten the screws on the defensive end. Josh Gasser has shown his defensive toughness, shutting down some of the best players the Big Ten has to offer. Another solid, gritty effort on the defensive end of the floor and he puts the Badgers in a great position to move onto the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
But it doesn’t just stop with Gasser. Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes both will have their hands full with Moser battling in the paint.
And then there’s that little thing that has been plaguing the Badgers all year long–giving up points in the paint. Lately Wisconsin has been doing a better job of protecting the basket, but it hasn’t been great. Teams that had quick guards who shot well have doomed the Badgers. Oregon just so happens to have those type of guards.
For Wisconsin to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, they must slow down Young and Moser and force them into bad-shot situations. In the NCAA Tournament you keep hearing how teams survive and advance. Well for the Badgers to survive and advance, it’s time to dial up the defense and shut the Ducks down.