The same zone defense that gave the Creighton Bluejays absolute fits could not slow down the Wisconsin Badgers, who soundly took care of the Bears 69-52. The Badgers continuously got quality looks, knocking down 52 percent of their attempts in the game. Had they done a better job at the free throw line, this game wouldn’t have even been as close as it was – and it wasn’t that close. Junior seven footer Frank Kaminsky came up big against a Bears frontline with two future pros on it in Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, going for 19 points, four rebounds, three assists and six blocks. Austin and Jefferson had solid outings themselves offensively with 12 and 15 respectively, but struggled to control the glass as the Badgers finished a +6 in the rebounding category. They’re going up against an Arizona team for the regional title that will play a very tough brand of man-to-man defense. With a thin, but extremely talented, frontline the Badgers have to look to expose the Wildcats’ lack of depth there. That means getting to the free throw line early and often, and most importantly converting.
In order to win a national championship you have to win on nights when you don’t play your best. On Thursday, the Wildcats did just that, as Nick Johnson got his first two field goals to fall late in the game to help hold off the upset minded San Diego State Aztecs 70-64. The Wildcats dealt with foul trouble on their frontline and were forced to play the final four minutes without their top reserve Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who fouled out. They were also outrebounded by eight, but they limited the Aztecs to 38 percent shooting from the field and 28 percent from deep. Freshman big man Aaron Gordon was simply solid once against, posting 15 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. On Saturday in the Elite Eight they’ll take on the Wisconsin Badgers, the most impressive team in Thursday night’s action. They’re coming off of a hammering of a red hot Baylor team, but defensively they’re actually not as tough as the Aztecs were this year. The Wildcats need to attack them on the frontline and go right at Frank Kaminsky. Making their free throws late could end up being key as this has the makings of a game that could go down to the wire. The Wildcats have had their struggles at the line, but on Thursday they went 19-25 while the Badgers went 11-20. They’ll also have to do a better job on the glass after getting outrebounded by the Aztecs. If they can’t keep the Badgers off the glass, they give them the chance to dictate the tempo and control the pace.