Los Angeles, Calif. - Staples Center
Thursday, 7:47pm ET
TBS (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller)
“J.P.’s a good friend of mine. I played AAU with him for four years, so we built a pretty good relationship. And Bronson Koenig, our point guard, is also on that team. So we all know each other really well and our families get along great. Can't tell you the amount of time I've spent with them. So it's exciting to go up against him and be on the same court as him again.” - Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker on his friendship with UNC wing J.P. Tokoto
“I’ve just tried to improve my shooting ability, ball-handling ability, and overall ability as a player, free-throw ability, defensive prowess, pretty much everything. It's allowed me to do better things this year, and I'm just happy that I'm able to play with the player of the year and two NBA draft picks. So when I'm out there on the court, I'm just happy I can pass those guys the ball.” - Wisconsin wing Nigel Hayes
“If he's physically capable of being on the court, he deserves some time because I'm going to reward him for working so hard in the rehab and getting back because he deserves it. Now how many possessions or how many trips up and down the court, that remains to be seen. But no one is agonizing about it over here.” - Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan on the status of injured guard Traevon Jackson
“He said he's cheering for North Carolina because he's got family from there, which was obviously a little disappointing.” - Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky on meeting actor Will Ferrell on Tuesday
Season to Date: Wisconsin enters Thursday’s contest with a 33-3 (16-2 Big Ten) record. The Badgers won both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles and earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region. The Badgers also have the odds-on favorite for the Naismith Award in seven-foot center Frank Kaminsky. This Wisconsin squad is not satisfied with that level of success, though. The Badgers went to the Final Four last season before losing a one-point game to Kentucky in the national semifinals. One of Wisconsin’s losses this season came without Kaminsky and the other two were against top-20 opponents in Duke and Maryland. Head coach Bo Ryan’s squad also owns victories over Oklahoma, Georgetown and Michigan State.
NCAA Tournament Results: This squad has looked strong in its first two games of the NCAA Tournament. First, the Badgers easily dispatched Coastal Carolina (86-72). In that game, the Badgers shot 54.1 percent from the field and were led by Kaminsky, who finished the contest with a double-double (27 points and 12 rebounds). In the round of 32, the Badgers pulled away late to defeat Oregon, 72-65. Kaminsky once again led the way with 16 points and 7 rebounds.
Just Frank: Kaminsky came into this season atop the watch list for the Naismith Award (which goes to college basketball’s top player). The senior has lived up to those expectations, averaging 21.5 points (fourth in the Big Ten), and 9.5 rebounds per game (third in the Big Ten). Kaminsky has also been incredibly efficient. So far this season, Kaminsky has averaged 13.5 field goal shots per game and has converted 59.3 percent of those attempts.
Lethally Efficient: If you were to glance at Wisconsin’s stats, you might think Ryan had changed his approach when you see that his Badgers are averaging 73.5 points per game. All that’s changed, however, is that his roster is full of talent and experience. Wisconsin leads the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency (124.9) and turnover percentage (12.4), according to kenpom.com, and ranks 16th in effective field goal percentage (54.7). .
Jackson Approaching Return: Back in January, starting point guard Traevon Jackson broke his foot playing against Rutgers. The senior guard has not been in the lineup since, but could be ready to return, albeit in limited in action, for the start of the Sweet 16. Even though Jackson’s status (and effectiveness) is up in the air, UNC will still have to deal with the Badgers’ current starting point man, Bronson Koenig. The young guard has done a solid job (8.6 ppg, 2.7 apg) of filling in for Jackson and has gelled quite well with this seasoned team’s seasoned starting lineup.
Highly Disciplined: In addition to their scoring ability, this Wisconsin team has been revered for its disciplined style of play. The Badgers have committed the fewest total turnovers (307) nationally. On average, this team averages a paltry 8.1 giveaways per game, which is also the best in the conference. Overall, Wisconsin is tied for the best assist-turnover ratio in the Big Ten at 1.5.
Last Meeting: The fifth-ranked Tar Heels topped the ninth-ranked Badgers, 60-57, in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 30, 2011, in Chapel Hill. Harrison Barnes led UNC with 20 points and John Henson added eight points, five blocks and 17 rebounds.
Series History: UNC leads the all-times series with Wisconsin, 2-0. The Tar Heels are 1-0 against the Badgers in NCAA Tournament play.
44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0, 242, Sr.) - 18.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg
15 Sam Dekker (6-9, 230, Jr.) - 13.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg
10 Nigel Hayes (6-8, 235, So.) - 12.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg
24 Bronson Koenig (6-4, 190, So.) - 8.6 ppg, 2.4 apg
21 Josh Gasser (6-4, 192, Sr.) - 6.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg
13 Duje Dukan (6-10, 218, Sr.) - 4.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg
3 Zak Showalter (6-2, 185, So.) - 2.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg
12 Traevon Jackson (6-3, 207, Sr.) - 9.4 ppg, 2.9 apg **
Roster & Bios
(Photo from USA Today Sports)