Preview: No.5 Vanderbilt vs. No.4 Wisconsin

The Badgers have made 17 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, but are looking to make the Sweet 16 in back-to-back season for the first time in school history. If No.4 seed Wisconsin wants to accomplish that feat, the Badgers will have to get past No.5 seed Vanderbilt in the NCAA Tournament Third Round.

No.5 Vanderbilt (25-10, 10-6 Southeastern Conference) vs. No.4 Wisconsin (25-9, 12-6 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, March 17, 5:10 p.m. Central

Arena – University Arena, aka The Pit (15,411)

Television - TNT (Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzel)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas); Westwood One (Dave Sims and Michael Cage)

Series – First Meeting

Last Meeting – First Meeting

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (6-6 Junior Forward, 11.1 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (6-1 Senior Guard, 14.7 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 7.8 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Junior Forward, 5.6 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (6-10 Junior Forward, 10.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 7.1 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (6-4 Senior Guard, 4.1 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Freshman Forward, 1.9 ppg)

Vanderbilt Probable Starters

1 Brad Tinsley (6-3 Senior Guard, 8.9 ppg)

3 Festus Ezeli (6-11 Senior Center, 9.9 ppg)

5 Lance Goulbourne (6-0 Senior Forward, 8.7 ppg)

23 John Jenkins (6-4 Junior Guard, 20.1 ppg)

44 Jeff Taylor (6-7 Senior Guard, 16.3 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Kedren Johnson (6-4 Freshman Guard, 3.2 ppg)

24 Dai-Jon Parker (6-3 Freshman Guard, 1.7 ppg)

33 Steve Tchiengang (6-9 Senior Forward, 3.5 ppg)

45 Rod Odom (6-9 Sophomore Forward, 2.5 ppg)

Last Time Out

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – If there was any one play that was emblematic of fourth-seeded Wisconsin's offensive effort in its convincing 73-49 victory over 13-seeded Montana on Thursday at The Pit, it was one involving highly-regarded Badgers senior Jordan Taylor.

The Bloomington, Minn.-native drove into the lane but was corralled by a pair of Grizzly defenders. Falling down, Taylor caught junior Mike Bruesewitz with a sharp pass that the starting forward easily converted into a basket.

"(The keys were) moving bodies and moving the ball," said Taylor. "We got stagnant at times but we kept bringing in guys – if they weren't making shots they were moving themselves and opening up gaps for guys to make plays. "The perfect example was one play where I fell down and Mike just kept moving through the defense and I just kind of threw it to him. He did a good job of opening himself up."

A player finding open spots on Thursday afternoon was not a rare occurrence for Wisconsin (27-8), which finished with four players in double figures in the win over the Big Sky champions. Senior guard Ryan Evans scored six of his game-high 18 points in the early 12-2 run that separated UW from the determined, but overmatched Grizzlies.

Evans would finish with eight rebounds and 6-of-8 shooting as the Badgers shot 23-of-48 (47.9 percent) overall and a sizzling 10-of-19 (52.9 percent) from three-point land.

"It's in the left hand column, so you're always happy with that," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "But there's more (wins) out there and in order to get those you have to play better. So we'll try to improve a couple of things and make sure we're playing to our max."

Taylor added 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting with eight rebounds, 3-of-5 on 3-pointers while sophomore guard Josh Gasser added 12 points while senior guard Rob Wilson came off the bench to add 10 points.

Senior Art Steward scored 18 points to pace Montana (24-10). Junior Will Cherry, who came into the game averaging 16 points per game, finished with nine points on 3-of-14 shooting – a stat emblematic of the Badgers' determined defensive performance.

- By Kenn Rodriguez – Special to Badgernation.com

Series Notes:

Wisconsin is 14-11 (.560) all-time verse current members of the Southeastern Conference, but has not met an SEC opponent since 2007.

Badgers have a four-game winning streak against the SEC.

Vanderbilt is 20-28 (.471) against the Big Ten. Other than Wisconsin, the Commodores have never played Iowa and have never beaten Minnesota (0-4).

Vanderbilt is looking for its first win over a Big Ten foe since March 16, 2005 (67-60 over Indiana in the NIT). The Commodores are 0-2 over that stretch with both losses coming against Illinois in 2008-09 and 09-10.

Wisconsin Notes

The Badgers are now 24-16 (.600) all-time in the NCAA tournament, including 15-10 (.600) under head coach Bo Ryan.

The 24-point margin of victory is Wisconsin's largest NCAA tournament win, besting the old UW record of 17 in a 72-55 win over Kansas State in 2008.

UW has scored 70 or more points in 3 of its last 4 NCAA tournament games. The Badgers are now 10-2 all-time in the NCAA tournament when scoring 70-plus points.

UW shot 52.6 percent from 3-point range (10- for-19), marking the school's third-highest percentage in an NCAA tournament game. The Badgers have shot 50.0 percent or better from 3-point range 7 times this season.

The Badgers made 17-of-19 (89.5 percent) free throws, Wisconsin best-ever percentage in an NCAA tournament game.

Taylor is just the 5th player since 1997 to post at least 17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and zero turnovers in an NCAA tournament game.

Vanderbilt Notes:

Vanderbilt now has an all-time record of 10-13 in the NCAA Tournament, while current head coach Kevin Stallings has a 6-7 overall record in the tournament.

The Commodores have advanced to the Regional Semfinals four times in program history - last Sweet 16 appearance came in 2007.

Jenkins and Taylor were both named to the All-SEC first team by the league's coaches this year. Taylor was also named to the All-Defensive team for the third consecutive season.

Since the return of Festus Ezeli to the lineup after suffering a knee injury in presason practice, VU is 15-6 with starting lineup of Brad Tinsley, John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor, Lance Goulbourne, and Ezeli.

Vanderbilt has made a 3-pointer in 830 consecutive games, a streak which began at the inception of the 3-point line in 1986-87. The Commodores rank second only to UNLV (840) for the longest streak in Division I basketball.

Jenkins scored 27 points in the win over the Crimson on Thursday. Senior guard Brad Tinsley tallied 16 points and Jeffery Taylor added 15. Jenkins was 10-13 from the free throw line - his 13 attempts set a new NCAA single-game record for VU.

Prediction

As I drove home from the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis and searched through the radio stations, I found the SEC Championship game and listened from the middle of the first half through the end of game. Upon hearing Vanderbilt repeatedly frustrate Kentucky – holding them without a field goal over the final 8:04 and to just 35.9 percent from the field (23 of 64). – I told myself that the Commodores were a likely Elite Eight team. How fitting that they stand in the way of the Badgers.

Vanderbilt shot 54.3 percent from the field against Harvard - the 12th game this year shooting 50 percent or better – and assistant coach Gary Close calls Vanderbilt the ‘most dangerous team we've faces this season' from a defensive perspective. He wasn't kidding.

Vanderbilt starts four seniors, has another come off the bench and junior John Jenkins plays like a senior. Wisconsin has two seniors, so the experience factor, even though the Badgers have more tournament experience than the Commodores, it not on their side.

"I think the gratification, other than advancing, is now they get to experience the one thing they hadn't experienced since they've been at Vanderbilt and that is success at the NCAA tournament, ," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. "Don't take that to mean that we're satisfied because we're obviously not, but I'm very, very pleased for them because of the things that have happened in the past and the negativity that's gone with those losses."

Also not on UW's side if guard play and post presence. Jenkins and Jeff Taylor combined for 42 points from the backcourt, while Ezeli snagged a game-high 11 rebounds, including three consecutive offensive boards in one second-half sequence.

"Our whole philosophy is to try to run guys off the line and to not let them get going," said Bruesewitz. "If they have multiple guys, we can't help quite as much off those guys. We have to make sure we take that away and force them into tough two-point jump shots."

Parts of my bracket are in rough shape, but my East Region is nearly flawless. I certainly believe whoever wins this game will get to the Elite Eight, as we saw on Thursday on vulnerable Syracuse is without Fab Melo. Wisconsin will need to shoot at the same level and defend at an even higher level than they did against Montana. Even then that might not be enough.

As good as Wisconsin's defense is, Vanderbilt has too many weapons for the Badgers to defend. With UW lacking that same scoring punch, I believe the Badgers season ends today with an 11-point loss.

Worgull's Record: 27-7

Points off Prediction: 308 (9.06 per game)


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