Wisconsin advanced past American in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Against the Oregon Ducks, they had to survive a 12 point halftime deficit to advance into the Sweet 16.
So I ask you Badger nation, will Bucky be able to survive and advance past Baylor and into the Elite Eight?
Before we dive into that question, let’s take a brief look at Baylor’s regular season. The Bears started the season winning 13 of their first 14 games. Everything was looking good in Waco, until the Big 12 conference season began. Baylor proceeded to lose 10 of their first 12 conference games, and it seemed as if the Bears wouldn’t even get close enough to sniff the NCAA Tournament.
But then Baylor found some magic and rattled off wins in seven of their last eight regular season games to become one of the hottest teams heading into post season play. Although they did not win their Big 12 tournament, Baylor entered the big dance as a dangerous team to potentially make a deep run.
If you notice, there are some similarities between these two teams. Both started hot out of the gates, hit a lull in the middle of the season then finished strong. And both came in as two teams to keep an eye on.
Back to the matter at hand. If the Badgers want to advance to the Elite Eight, they must step up their defense. In the second half of the previous two games, they held American and Oregon to 13 and 28 points, respectively. Honestly, that’s pretty impressive. But if Bucky gets done by double-digits like they did against the Ducks, this Baylor team will run them out of Anaheim faster than they can say Disneyland.
Don’t believe me? Remember what they did against Creighton and Doug McBuckets (I like that name better than McDermott)? They held McBuckets to 15 points–most of those were scored when the game was already out-of-hand–and completely destroyed the Bluejays by 30 points.
Besides the guards battling in this game, I think the big showdown will be between Wisconsin’s Frank “the Tank” Kaminsky and Baylor’s Isaiah Austin. Kaminsky has shined this season and in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 13.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. Not to be outdone, Austin has is averaging 15 points and 5.5 boards per game in the dance.
Point guard Traevon Jackson will have to be on top of his game as well. A solid performance with zero turnovers and timely shots will be key for the Badgers moving on. Oh and also the Badgers have some guy named Sam Dekker that is a pretty good player. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but he’s quietly averaged 11.5 ppg and 7 rpg. I, for one, would love to see Mr. Dekker have a breakout game Thursday.
This time of year it is all about surviving and advancing. Can Wisconsin get past Baylor in the Sweet 16? Sure, but it will be far from easy. This game could go either way. Both teams are playing some great basketball at just the right time. Another heavyweight fight is in store Thursday in Anaheim.