Preview: No.5 Kansas State vs. No.4 Wisconsin

Wisconsin found its groove against Belmont and now the Badgers will look for the program's fifth Sweet 16 appearance since 2000 when it takes on No.5 Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament third round Saturday night.

No.5 Kansas State (23-10, 10-6 Big 12) vs. No.4 Wisconsin (24-8, 13-5 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, March 19, 7:40 p.m. Central

Arena – McKale Center (14,545)

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

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

Series – Wisconsin leads 3-2 (UW 1-0 on neutral court)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 72-55, on March 20, 2008 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 18.2 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 5.8 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 3.7 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 18.6 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 9.9 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, 4.3 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 2.5 ppg)

Kansas State Probable Starters

0 Jacob Pullen (Senior Guard, 19.6 ppg)

1 Shane Southwell (Freshman Guard, 1.9 ppg)

22 Rodney McGruder (Sophomore Guard, 11.4 ppg)

24 Curtis Kelly (Senior Forward, 10.5 ppg)

32 Jamar Samuels (Junior Forward, 8.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Martavious Irving (Sophomore Guard, 4.2 ppg)

15 Freddy Asprilla (Junior Forward, 4.9 ppg)

33 Wally Judge (Sophomore Forward, 5.5 ppg)

55 Will Spradling (Freshman Guard, 6.5 ppg)

Last Time Out

Wisconsin brought its offense out of the deep freeze into the desert, and the thaw was remarkable.

Jon Leuer scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and the Badgers methodically dispatched Belmont 72-58 on Thursday night, Wisconsin's fifth consecutive NCAA tournament-opening victory. Jordan Taylor added 21 for fourth-seeded Wisconsin (24-8), 14 of them coming in the first half.

''I never stopped believing in the team. There was never any doubts there,'' said coach Bo Ryan, who's brought Wisconsin to the NCAA tournament each of his 10 seasons there and has won the opener in nine of them. ''It's about what they can accomplish is the job of a teacher, a coach, a parent. You put young people in positions, you try to give them what you can.''

There was much talk of Belmont, a No. 13 seed, being a surprise tournament team, but the Bruins never hit their stride against the Badgers, who made 12 of 22 three-pointers, led by Taylor's 5 of 9.

''I thought we defended in this game about as good as we can defend,'' Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. ''And I'd like to see how many of those were in the last six seconds of the shot clock and how many were contested.''

It was an impressive rebirth of the Wisconsin offense after a blowout loss to No. 1 Ohio State, followed by an ugly 36-33 defeat against Penn State in the lowest-scoring game in Big Ten tournament history. Wisconsin was 2 of 21 on threes in that one.

''We really forgot about the last two games,'' Taylor insisted. ''As soon as they were over we forgot about them.''

Badgers reserve Mike Bruesewitz sprained his right knee against Penn State, and it was uncertain how much he would be able to play. He made two of three three-pointers, scored eight points and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds in 29 minutes.

But the major damage came from the Badgers' ''big two'' of Leuer and Taylor.

Last Meeting

OMAHA, Neb. - Athletically on paper, the Badgers simply did not match up with the quick, agile freshmen of Kansas State.

Odds are that those odds makers did not factor in 6-foot-11, 260 pound Greg Stiemsma, who nearly out performed everybody Saturday afternoon.

Averaging only three points a game during the course of the season, Stiemsma exploded for a career high 14 points, helping the Badgers make their first sweet 16 appearance since 2005 with a 72-55 victory over Kansas State.

Stiemsma was effective in all facets of his game against the Wildcats (21-12). He shot 6-for-9 from the floor, was active on the boards and even showcased some athleticism in the process.

Midway through the first half with the shot clock winding down, Stiemsma stutter stepped out toward the perimeter as sophomore Trevon Hughes drove into the lane. When his defender closed on the sophomore, Stiemsma received the pass and slammed it home.

In the second half with the Badgers looking to build on their nine-point lead, Stiemsma got the ball on an outlet pass, drove into the lane and delivered on a off-balance layup as he was fouled, converting on the old fashioned three-point play.

Stiemsma wasn't the only offensive gem, as Hughes was an assassin all afternoon long for the Badgers (31-4). Hughes nailed four triples and registered a game-high 25 points on 8-for-13 shooting and senior Michael Flowers scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half, helping the Badgers build a lead they were never relinquish.

Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament

With a 72-58 win over Belmont in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the Badgers improved to 22-15 all-time in the Big Dance.

Wisconsin has won its opening game of the NCAA tournament in each of the last five seasons.

Bo Ryan now owns a 13-9 record in NCAA tournament games, including an impressive 9-1 mark in the Round of 64.

The Badgers are looking to reach their fifth Sweet 16 since 2000, reaching the Round of 16 in 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2008.

Series Notes:

This will be the sixth meeting between Wisconsin and Kansas State in a series dating back to 1949. The Badgers own a 3-2 advantage in games against the Wildcats.

Current Badgers Tim Jarmusz, Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil and Brett Valentyn all saw time in UW's win over Kansas State, combining for six minutes and zero points.

UW and KSU have played one common opponent this season. The Badgers lost at UNLV, 68-65, on Nov.20, while the Wildcats lost to UNLV, 63-59, in Kansas City on Dec. 21.

Saturday will mark the Badgers' fourth NCAA tournament game against a Big 12 opponent. In addition to playing Kansas State, UW lost to Missouri, 109-96, in the 1994 2nd round and to Texas, 71-58, in the 1997 1st round.

Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament

Kansas State is making its 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their third in the last four seasons by receiving an at-large bid to the tournament. K-State is making its 32nd postseason appearance, which includes 25 in the NCAA Tournament and seven in the Postseason NIT. It marks the fifth straight postseason appearance for the Wildcats and the second consecutive in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the squad made a run to its 11th Elite Eight in school history, knocking off No. 15 seed North Texas (82-62), No. 7 seed BYU (84-72) and No. 6 seed Xavier (101-96 2 OTs) before losing in the West Regional Final to eventual national runner-up Butler, 63-56.

The program has posted a 31-28 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play, including a 11-4 mark in first round games. The school will be making its first appearance in the Southeast Regional with its other trips coming in the Midwest (17-18), West (11-7), East (2-2) and South (0-1) Regions.

K-State will be making its second appearance as a No. 5 seed and the first since a run to the Sweet 16 in 1981-82. It ties for the third-highest seed in school history, trailing the No. 2 seed in 2009-10 and No. 4 seed in 1987-88. Overall, it marks just the seventh time that the Wildcats have earned a seeding of eight or better in the NCAA Tournament.

In the 24 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, the team has advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 16 times. The program has also reached the Elite Eight 11 times, made four Final Four appearances and played in one National Championship game (1951).

This marks the third trip to the NCAA Tournament for head coach Frank Martin, who has took the squad to the second round in 2008 and the Elite Eight in 2010. He is 5-2 in the NCAA Tournament and 6-3 overall in the postseason. The Wildcats have not made consecutive trips to the "Big Dance" since the going four consecutive seasons from 1986-90.

Wisconsin Notes:

Wisconsin leads the Big Ten and ranks 3rd in the nation, allowing 58.3 points per game. The Badgers have held 18 of their 32 opponents under 60 points this season. UW is 153-16 (.905) under Bo Ryan when keeping teams below 60.

Wisconsin is on pace to set an NCAA single-season record, turning the ball over just 7.56 times per game. The Badgers coughed it up 13 times vs. Belmont, the team's most since posting 13 turnovers vs. Milwaukee on Dec. 18, 2010.

The Badgers are also on pace to set an NCAA single-season record for free throw accuracy. Wisconsin is making 82.3% at the line. Harvard set the NCAA record with a mark of 82.2% in 1984. Wisconsin made 20-of-25 FTs (80%) vs. Belmont, marking the 5th time UW has shot at least 25 FTs this season.

Senior Jon Leuer (22 points) and junior Jordan Taylor (21 points) both eclipsed the 20-point mark in the win over Belmont. This marked the 8th time Wisconsin has had a pair of 20-point scorers in the same game this season and the 7th time Leuer and Taylor have turned the trick. Temple and Vanderbilt are the only other teams to have a pair of 20-point scorers in a 2011 NCAA Tournament game.

Prediction

The Badgers appear to be back on track after losing two straight games in ugly fashion going into the tournament and the reason for it is depth … the kind of depth UW only showed at home … and hitting the 3-point shot away from the Kohl. Wisconsin shot 50 percent from the field Thursday against Belmont, while hitting 12 of 22 threes in the game and the "big two" also looked much better, as Jon Leuer led all scorers with 22 points and Jordan Taylor scored 21 points.

More importantly, injured forward Mike Bruesewitz played on his sprained right knee and did not appear to be slowed down at all. He provided energy off the bench and scored eight points to go along with nine rebounds in 28 points. The Badgers will need Bruesewitz's contributions against a Kansas State team that won its last six regular season games.

The Wildcats -- who were at one point on the bubble -- rattled off wins against Kansas, Missouri and Texas before losing to Colorado in their opening game in the Big 12 Tournament. Both teams like to play the same way – physical, which should make this one of the better third-round matchups in the NCAA Tournament.

I said UW will only win if it played up to its potential on the road, something they hadn't done all season. UW did that, I am once again a Bo-liever and think it will be sweet when the Badgers make the Sweet Sixteen with a six-point victory.

Worgull's Record: 28-4

Points off Prediction: 221 (6.9 per game)


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