The Eagles finished second in the Patriot League in the regular season before winning the conference tournament with a victory over Boston University in Boston. The only common opponent UW and American played this season was Ohio State. The Eagles lost at Columbus by 11 and UW lost at home to OSU by one.
In this Badger Nation feature, we will look at the three keys or questions for Wisconsin to have success against American in the NCAA tournament.
Lay up: Can Wisconsin wear down American?
American doesn't go that deep into its bench (sometimes only going as deep as eight guys) and even then don't use their subs for long stretches of time. The Eagles primarily lie on their starters who log heavy minutes. Jesse Reed is one of their best players, averaging a team-high 13.9 points a game, hasn't left the floor in the last five games. Tony Wroblicky, Darius Gardener and John Schoof have also played a full 40-minute game in three of their last five games.
So it's safe to assume that against Wisconsin those four primary players for American will be on the floor for the entirety of the game, unless foul trouble plays a factor. If Wisconsin can run its offense through Frank Kaminsky, find ways to attack the rim or force turnovers to possibly get points in transition, Wisconsin can wear down American. But if Wisconsin doesn't start fast and allows American to stay in the game, it could allow a spark for the Eagles to pull off the upset.
Mid-range jumper: Which Wisconsin defense will show up?
Wisconsin's defense has looked awfully good at times, helping slow down its opponent's best scorers, but at the same time they have struggled to defend the paint or allowed dribble penetration.
One of the strong suits for the Eagles is that they rank seventh in the country in field goal percentage (49 percent). Gardner and Reed shoot better then 50 percent from the field with Wroblicky shooting a team-high 58 percent from the field.
Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson will draw the defensive assignment of Reed and Gardner (11.5 points a game) and will need to shut down easy driving lanes to the hoop and backdoor cuts. Kaminsky will need to be a strong defender down low in the paint against Wroblicky, who's 6-foot-10 and is averaging 12.2 points a game.
With American running the Princeton Offense, everyone will have to be alert and be paying attention to the different options the offense presents. Wisconsin will need to have to play full possessions on defense. If they can force American into an early shot into the shot clock, they need to get the rebound and prevent them from getting a second-chance opportunity. On the year American is averaging 7.1 offensive rebounds a game.
3-pointer: Can Frank Kaminsky find success down low?
Kaminsky could be the key player in trying to wear down the Eagles' interior defense and trying to get Wroblicky into foul trouble (he's averaging 3.5 fouls a game). Kaminsky was part of the reason why Wisconsin was able to make a run against Michigan State and get back in the game in the second half.
If Reed is American's best player, Wroblicky isn't far behind. Wroblicky leads the team in rebounding (7.3 per game) assists (2.9) and blocks (1.9). With Wroblicky being a talented passer and someone who's going to draw attention down low, he's been able to help take some pressure off of his teammates, which have allowed them to shoot the basketball so efficiently.
Kaminsky is going to have to be the aggressor right out of the gate because at times he has shown to take awhile to get himself going on offense. Even though Kaminsky was able to put together a good game against Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament, he was hesitant toward the beginning of the game posting underneath the basket. With Wroblicky expected to possibly play a full 40 minutes, and if the Badgers run the offense through Kaminsky, he could easily be able to attack Wroblicky early and often in trying to wear him down.