(2) Wisconsin Badgers
It took the Badgers a little bit to get started, but once they did American did not stand a chance. With 7:27 remaining in the first half the Eagles led 19-13, but they would only score 16 points the rest of the way as the Badgers dominated them to the tune of a 75-35 win. This year’s Badgers is being called one of Bo Ryan’s best offensive teams ever, but they showed on Thursday night that their defense is quite formidable. It’s not easy to hold a team to 16 points in 27 minutes, no matter who you’re playing. Offensively the Badgers lived up to the praise, shooting 50 percent from the field, 43 percent from deep where they hit 10 threes and 92.9 percent from the line. Ironically, in the Round of 32 their offensive efficiency will go a long way in helping their defense. One of the best ways to slow down a team that loves to push the tempo is to take quality shots and force them to take the ball out of the basket more times than not. It’s a lot more difficult to run when you’re inbounding it half the time rather than getting out on the break off of defensive rebounds. The Badgers got 18 points from Traveon Jackson, 17 from Ben Brust and 11 from Sam Dekker. Meanwhile, their bench contributed 14. It’s going to be a real clash of styles between them and Oregon, but Wisconsin is as well equipped to win a shootout as they’ve ever been.
(7) Oregon Ducks
Had the Cougars been at full strength their opening round matchup against the Oregon Ducks could have been very interesting. However, without Kyle Collinsworth the Cougars failed to keep up with the Ducks, who cruised to an 87-68 victory to earn a spot in the Round of 32 against the Wisconsin Badgers. The Ducks were led by the 23 points of Elgin Cook off of the bench; Cook also had eight rebounds. The Ducks’ bench outscored BYU’s 49-10. As a team the Ducks shot 50 percent from the field and got to the charity stripe 38 times, where they only missed seven. Defensively they held a shorthanded, but still formidable Cougars’ offense to 32 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent from beyond the arc. Against the Wisconsin Badgers their patience is really going to be tested. The Badgers are not going to play their style like BYU did, they’re going to slow it down and try to make them beat them in a halfcourt game. The key for the Ducks will be getting stops defensively and keeping them off of the offensive glass, because you can’t get out and run in transition without securing the defensive rebound. Keep a close eye on Mike Moser, the best rebounder on the team. If he can help them control the boards, the Ducks have a chance to move on to the Sweet 16.
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