Full Wisconsin Preview and Prediction For the West Region

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Elite Eight

In the bottom half of the bracket, Arizona and Baylor are head and shoulders above everyone else. Both provide significant challenges for the Badgers to handle, and will be a significant roadblock for their title aspirations.

#3 Baylor

Hey Baylor, remember us? You know, the team that beat you by 17 in last year’s Sweet Sixteen. Despite that lopsided affair, I think the Bears actually pose a real challenge to Wisconsin. First of all, this team is great on the offensive glass. Michigan State showed that defensive rebounding might be an Achilles heel. Baylor is long and athletic enough to cause problems for Frank Kaminsky. Rico Gathers, at 6 foot 8 and 280 pounds, may be the most physically intimidating player in College Basketball. However, I won’t make the mistake of picking Baylor over Wisconsin again. I just won’t do it. I don’t care how long and athletic they are. I just don’t think they can score with the Badgers.

Prediction: 66-60 Win

#2 Arizona

At last, we come to the Wildcats. They’ll be hungry to avenge last season’s loss in the Elite 8, when their seeding was reversed. They return most of their team from last year, with the exception of leading scorer Nick Johnson and lottery pick Aaron Gordon. Even without those players, they still have a top 25 offense, led by Stanley Johnson at 14 ppg, and Brandon Ashley at 12 ppg. To make matters worse, they have one of the elite defenses in the country. In fact, as you look further at their stats, it’s hard to see any weaknesses. They rebound well, hit the 3, have plenty of size and depth, and rarely turn the ball over. It’s going to take another career performance from Frank for the Badgers to win this game. Even then, it’s not going to be easy. But I just have a gut feeling that they’re going to get it done. It’s just something about this team.

Prediction: 65-64 Win

Arizona and Baylor are the kings of this side of the region, and I don’t want to waste my time writing about teams we probably won’t see. But this is March and crazier things have happened. So I’ll give you a quick look at the remaining teams.

#6 Xavier

The Musketeers are a good offensive team, with three double figure scorers. They play well as a team, and they look to drive and dish. With 4 top 25 wins, they’ve proven they can beat good teams. However, they don’t have the size or the defense to beat Baylor or Arizona. Kaminsky, Hayes, and Dekker would be too much for this undersized Xavier team to handle. Prediction: 78-69 in favor of the Badgers.

#7- Ohio State

The team we crushed on their home floor a week ago.  No more needs to be said.

#10 VCU

VCU is no stranger to deep runs in the tourney. With their havoc orientated defense, they can compete with anyone. And sometimes, it’s better to be hot than good, as UConn showed last year. VCU is hot, coming off an A-10 Championship. However, Wisconsin matches up with them well. VCU’s whole game plan is predicated on forcing turnovers, and Wisconsin doesn’t oblige, as I may have already mentioned a dozen times in this article.

#11 BYU/Ole Miss

BYU could be scary. Tyler Haws is one of the best scorers in the nation, and Kyle Collinsworth is a triple double machine. The Cougars are one of the only teams in the last decade that can say they’ve beaten Gonzaga in Washington. The Ole Miss Rebels aren’t very good. To be blunt, I think they are the worst at-large team in the tournament. However, they did hang with Kentucky, so that’s something, I guess.  But then again so did Columbia.  BYU could make things interesting for Wisconsin, and would probably lose 80-73. Ole Miss would need a genie to get to the elite 8, and another wish to come within 20 of the Badgers.

#14 Georgia State

They have Kevin Ware. I still have nightmares about his leg. They also have R.J Hunter, a 20 point scorer, to go with Ryan Harrow, who averages 19 points per game after transferring from Kentucky. So they have some power conference talent, and the scorers. They could give Baylor some fits. And who knows? Maybe they’ll make it to the Elite 8. But they don’t have the size or defensive prowess to contain Kaminsky, Hayes, and Dekker.

#15 Texas Southern

They aren’t Florida Gulf Coast. They’re not Mercer either. As great as it would be to have Arizona eliminated before the weekend, it’s just not going to happen. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Next: The Outlook/Polls