March Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: (2) Wisconsin vs. (15) American

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Wisconsin Badgers 26-7, 12-6

For the 16th consecutive season the Badgers are dancing, coming in this year with one of their better offensive teams in recent memory. With five players averaging at least 9.5 points, led by Frank Kaminsky (13.4 ppg) and Sam Dekker (12.9 ppg), this year’s Badgers team is scoring 73 points a contest and averaging nearly eight made threes a game. They’re still quite tough defensively, as all Bo Ryan coached teams are, allowing just 64 points a game on 43 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent from deep. They played the fourth most difficult schedule in the country, going 6-4 against the RPI top 50 with notable wins against Florida, Virginia and Big 10 regular season champs Michigan. They endured a tough stretch at the beginning of the New Year in which they lost five of six, but they rebounded with an eight-game winning streak before being upset at Nebraska in their regular season finale. No team in the country takes better care of the basketball than the Badgers, who commit only 8.2 turnovers on average and only 14.8 fouls, which is second only to Michigan. Last year the Badgers were upset in their first game in the tournament by Mississippi in a game in which they only scored 46 points. They are still prone to some streakiness offensively, but don’t expect anything similar to that kind of drop off. They’ve only scored less than 59 points once this season.

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American Eagles 20-12, 13-5

The Eagles finished two games behind Boston for the Patriot League regular season championship, but they put forth one of their best defensive efforts of the year in the conference tournament championship against them and punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the third time. It’s been five years since we’ve seen the Eagles in the tourney. They nearly upset Villanova, leading by 10 at the half, before their inability to contain Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham eventually caught up with them in the second half. This year’s Eagles squad is defensive-oriented, limiting their opponents to 59.4 points a game. Their strength of schedule was ranked 233rd with their best wins coming against Boston. Overall they went 2-4 against the RPI top 100. It’s hard to believe in their upset potential with seven losses to teams outside of the RPI top 150 on their resume and their underwhelming offensive attack. The Eagles sorely lack depth and quality scoring threats outside of their top four of Jesse Reed (13.9 pgg), Tony Wroblicky (12.2 ppg), Darius Gardner (11.5 ppg) and John Schoof (11.4 ppg). In order for them to be competitive, Wroblicky has to stay out on the floor. He’s struggled with foul trouble on the year, a trend that can’t carry over into the tournament. The Eagles will also have to take much better care of the basketball as they turned it over nearly 14 times on average.