2015 Final Four: Keys for the Wisconsin Badgers Against the Kentucky Wildcats Defense


The Wisconsin Badgers and the Kentucky Badgers will square off Saturday in the 2015 Final Four, in a match up of two of the best defensive teams in all of college basketball.

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  • Wisconsin, at 57.8 points per game, gives up the 12th fewest points in all of basketball. Kentucky is giving up just 53.9 points per game, tied for the second-beast mark in all of the NCAA, trailing only Virginia.

    The Badgers clearly have their work cut out for them, but can use two major factors to their advantage in the 2015 Final Four match up.


    The Badgers were one of the most efficient teams in all of college basketball this season, and have continued that trend in the NCAA Tournament.

    Likewise, as the ESPN Stats & Info tweet suggests, Kentucky has been an incredibly efficient defensive squad.

    Combating a team that’s the most efficient on defense requires an efficient offense, and that’s what the Badgers, for the most part, have been.

    Wisconsin was the 17th best team in the country in terms of field goal percentage this season – 48.2 percent. Which defense allowed the lowest field goal percentage? You guessed it, Kentucky, who held opponents to 35.2 percent shooting from the field.

    There’s an old saying about a rock and a hard place, and it looks like that’s what this game is headed for.

    If Wisconsin can win the efficiency battle they will significantly increase their chances of winning the game. Notre Dame came within two points of the top seed shooting 46.4 percent from the field – despite a below-30 percent performance from behind the arc.

    A 40-plus percent shooting night would be great to see from the Badgers.


    Kentucky is the tallest and most athletic team the Badgers will see to date, but it doesn’t mean the Badgers can’t exploit mismatches against the Wildcats.

    Among the bigs on both rosters – Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker for the Badgers and Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Trey Lyles for the Wildcats – the Badgers have a pretty clear advantage in speed and quickness.

    Wisconsin Badgers
    Wisconsin Badgers /

    Wisconsin Badgers

    Cauley-Stein is quick enough to keep up with any of them, but he can (theoretically) only guard one Badger at a time, so Wisconsin’s trio should have the upper hand in speed. Unfortunately for the Badgers, that’s not all it takes to score.

    But since the Badgers big play so well on the perimeter, Kentucky will have some choices to make. Either they lay back and keep the Badgers from luring their rim protectors out of the lane and open themselves up to open Badgers looks from three-point land, or they press out on the arc and potentially give up paths to the basket.

    While the thought of playing games with Kentucky’s bigs might seems like an easy path to victory, Wisconsin’s mismatches on offense could very well burn them on defense, when Dekker and Hayes are forced to pound in the post against Lyles and Towns.

    That’s where point No. 1 comes back into play, and the Badgers need to be efficient on offense and get the most out of every possession.

    Notre Dame wasn’t afraid to get inside on Kentucky, and despite the Wildcats hammering out 9 blocks, Notre Dame scored 44 of its 66 points on two-point field goals. Wisconsin excelled from three against Arizona, but if the shots aren’t falling, They’ll have to attack the paint against Kentucky’s redwoods.

    If the Badgers can exploit the mismatches they have on the offensive end while playing efficiently on offense, they’ll have a chance to knock off the undefeated Wildcats.

    Next: Who's Shooting a Game-Winner for the Badgers?