Preview: No.13 Belmont vs. No.4 Wisconsin

After getting embarrassed in Indianapolis, Wisconsin begins its search for redemption tonight when it makes its 13th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, taking on a No.4 seed Belmont that cruised to the Atlantic Sun championship behind 30 wins.

No.13 Belmont (30-4, 19-1 Atlantic Sun) vs. No.10 Wisconsin (23-8, 13-5 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Thursday, March 17, 6:27 p.m. Central

Arena – McKale Center (14,545)

Television - TruTV (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner , Sam Ryan)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas) , Westwood One

Series – First Meeting

Wisconsin Probable Starters

11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 18.1 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 5.9 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 3.6 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 18.6 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 10.0 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Wquinton Smith (Senior Guard, 0.5 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (Sophomore Forward, 2.9 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Sophomore Forward, 4.2 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 2.3 ppg)

Belmont Probable Starters

Off the Bench

1 Drew Hanlen (Junior Guard, 6.4 ppg)

13 Jon House (Senior Guard, 5.4 ppg)

21 Ian Clark (Sophomore Guard, 12.4 ppg)

30 Trevor Noack (Sophomore Forward, 5.3 ppg)

34 Mick Hedgepeth (Junior Center, 10.6 ppg)

Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament

UW will make its 17th appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Badgers are 21-15 (.583) all-time in the Big Dance, advancing to the 2000 Final Four and winning the 1941 NCAA title.

The Badgers have been to the NCAA tournament in each of Bo Ryan's 10 seasons at Wisconsin. In Ryan's first nine NCAA tournament appearances, UW owns a 12-9 record and has advanced to three Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight in 2005.

UW has earned a top-4 seed in three of the last four years.

Wisconsin is 8-1 in first round under Bo Ryan.

The Badgers earned a No. 4 seed for the 2nd-straight year and are 2-0 all-time against No. 13 seeds in the NCAA tournament after defeating 13-seeded Tulsa in 2003 and No. 13 Wofford last year.

Series Notes:

The Badgers are 2-0 vs. current members of the Atlantic Sun conference, beating East Tennessee State in 1979 and Mercer in 2006

UW faced former A-Sun member Georgia State in the 2001 NCAA Tournament, losing 50-49.

UW head coach Bo Ryan and Belmont head coach Rick Byrd are two of the winningest active coaches in coaches basketball. Ryan ranks 9th with 623 career wins, while Byrd ranks 12th with 610. Ryan's .763 win percentage ranks 2nd among active Div. I coaches.

Belmont Notes:

Belmont enters the NCAA Tournament having won 12 consecutive games and 21 of its last 22 games.

Belmont has won 20+ games six of the last eight years and earned postseason play six of the last eight years. That includes NCAA Tournament appearances in 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2011.

Belmont has made the fourth-most three-point field goals in the nation since going from the NAIA to NCAA Division I in 1996-97.

Head Coach Rick Byrd, Associate Head Coach Casey Alexander, and Assistants Brian Ayers and Roger Idstrom have been together 11 years, making them the longest tenured coaching staff (head coach and top three assistants) at the same school in America.

Belmont is 25-0 this season against schools based outside the state of Tennessee.

Belmont and Pittsburgh are the only two teams in the country without a double figure loss this season.

Belmont has never faced a team from the state of Wisconsin since becoming an NCAA Division I member institution in 1996-97. In fact, the only time Belmont has played a team from the state of Wisconsin was Dec. 5, 1978, when NAIA Belmont defeated Wisconsin-River Falls, 77-69 in Nashville. Wisconsin-River Falls is an NCAA Division III member institution.

Prediction

If Wisconsin wins the next six games, it will take home its second national championship. Unfortunately, none of those games will be played at the Kohl Center.

When I previewed the Penn State game, I stated the argument that Wisconsin has been super impressive at home – winning by an average of 18.4 points per game, shot 49.2 percent from the floor (including 44.2 percent from 3-point range) and limited opponents to 41.8 percent from the floor – and awful on the road - shooting only 41.2 percent from the floor (including 33.1 percent from 3-point range) and saw opponents shoot 47.8 percent from the floor.

The Badgers' defensive performance was good on Friday against the Nittany Lions, but their offense was awful, lumping them into what has been a typical road performance this year for the Badgers. Wisconsin has yet to prove to me they can win away from home and with Bruesewitz going to be limited, I highly doubt this team is going to make a deep run like other people are predicting.

Yes the Badgers have two Wooden Award finalists in Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor, but what else do that have? After Taylor's 16 and Leuer's 10 Friday, the Badgers' next highest scorer was Nankivil with … 3. Belmont plays a lot of players to get fresh bodies, make a lot of threes and pose a lot of problems for Wisconsin. I want to believe this team can make a run, but this team hasn't instilled any confidence in me. Belmont makes it a quick tournament for Wisconsin with an 8 point win.

Worgull's Record: 28-3

Points off Prediction: 199 (6.97 per game)


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