Wisconsin Badgers (35-3) will seek revenge tonight against the Kentucky Wildcats (38-0). The Badgers have had all week to find a way to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season. How can Wisconsin accomplish what 38 other teams could not? Here are the keys to a Badgers upset.
When the NCAA tournament brackets were announced, most people felt that Kentucky would have little resistance going to the national championship game. Of the teams which were considered potential threats to the undefeated season, Notre Dame and the Badgers were brought up as solid challengers to the throne. Kentucky survived a 68-66 scare versus the Fighting Irish last week. Wisconsin, after getting by a tough Arizona basketball team, hopes they can be the one in 38-1.
Much of the attention has been paid to Kentucky’s Carl Anthony Towns and his dominating tournament. How Wisconsin defends him has been the question. The best way to defend Towns is to make him work on perimeter defense. In other words, keep him out of the paint.
Kaminsky is the rare college seven-footer who can score inside and outside. He is just as deft with his offensive post moves as he is shooting the three-point shot. If Kaminsky is effective with his outside shooting, that will force Towns to guard him out of the paint, freeing up the lane for possible easy shots inside. For Wisconsin to be successful, Kaminsky has to make his outside shots, making Towns end him.
Towns working hard on defense will have him tired on offense. Since he has not been challenged yet during this tournament, it will be interesting to see how he will respond.
Eliminating guard penetration is a major key for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Traevon Jackson returned from his injury during the round of 16. Pressure on-ball defense is his forte. He will have hands full with Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis, and the Harrison twins Aaron and Andrew.
They present different matchup problems for any team. Ulis is cat-quick, can get to the basket at will, and has a solid jump shot. Stopping him will take a total team effort. If Jackson can keep him out of the paint while cutting off his passing lanes, that will keep the ball out of Towns’ hands.
As for the Harrison twins, they are big and strong, but they do not quite take advantage of their mismatches. They are complete team players who have totally bought into Kentucky coach John Calipari’s team concept. Jackson and the other Badger guards must make them play selfish, thus canceling the rest of the team out.
Sam Dekker has to continue to play lights out basketball. He has scored 17 or more points in each tournament game. His play has become an added dimension for teams to compete with. Dekker can handle the basketball, shoot from long-range, take the ball to the rack, or pull up for a mid-range shot. That will be hard to contend with.
The Wisconsin Badgers are a veteran-laden team who does not turn the basketball over or foul their opponents. They are one of the teams with a legitimate chance at being the one in Kentucky’s 38-1. The stage is set to get revenge for last year’s loss to the Wildcats. Can the Badgers pull out the win? We will soon find out.
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