Date/Time -Saturday, March 22, 6:45 p.m. Central
Arena –BMO Harris Bradley Center (18,550)
Television -truTV (Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel and Lewis Johnson))
Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)
Series – Wisconsin leads 3-2 (Oregon leads 2-1 in neutral sites)
Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 72-70, on November 24, 1990 in Eugene, Ore.
Wisconsin Probable Starters
1 Ben Brust (6-1 Senior Guard, 12.9 ppg)
12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Junior Guard, 10.4 ppg)
15 Sam Dekker (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.7 ppg)
21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Junior Guard, 9.2 ppg)
44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Junior Forward, 13.6 ppg)
Off the Bench
10 Nigel Hayes (6-7 Freshman Forward, 8.0 ppg)
13 Duje Dukan (6-9 Junior Forward, 2.6 ppg)
24 Bronson Koenig (6-3 Freshman Guard, 3.2 ppg)
Oregon Probable Starters
0 Mike Moser (6-8 Senior Forward, 13.3 ppg)
3 Joseph Young (6-2 Junior Guard, 18.6 ppg)
10 Johnathan Loyd (5-8 Senior Guard, 7.2 ppg)
20 Waverly Austin (6-11 Senior Center, 1.8 ppg)
21 Damyean Dotson (6-5 Sophomore Guard, 9.6 ppg)
Off the Bench
1 Dominic Artis (6-1 Sophomore Guard, 4.2 ppg)
12 Jason Calliste (6-2 Senior Guard, 12.5 ppg)
13 Richard Amardi (6-8 Senior Forward, 6.6 ppg)
23 Elgin Cook (6-6 Sophomore Forward, 6.8 ppg)
32 Ben Carter (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 2.0 ppg)
Last Time Out
Carrying a chip on their shoulder following last year's early exit, Wisconsin played about as good as it possibly could in the final 30 minutes, giving Badgers fans some excitement that this team is primed for a deep tournament run after picking apart 15th-seed American in a 75-35 victory at the Bradley Center Thursday afternoon.
Traevon Jackson scored a game-high 18 points and Ben Brust added 17 points for Wisconsin (27-7), which advanced to the third round with its largest victory of the season and largest in NCAA tournament history.
"I think we did a good job in terms of getting the shots we wanted and one possession at a time," said Jackson, who added four rebounds, three assists and two steals to just two turnovers. "That's what we did, one possession at a time."
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan alluded to the fact the Badgers might be a little tight with their shot selection as the first half progressed, while others said it was the adjustment period to the American Princeton offense. Either way, it was a logical explanation why UW went seven minutes scoreless and saw American go on a 12-0 run to take its largest lead at 17-10.
"They really opened our eyes," said Gasser, who finished with seven points and a team-high four assists. "From there on we started focusing in on the defensive end, forcing them into some really tough stuff."
Once in tuned to the game plan, the Badgers were hard to slow. Closing the half on a 19-3 run, UW did most of the damage without Kaminsky, who scored the Badgers first six points in the paint but sat for the final 4:44 with two fouls.
UW outscored American 15-2 with Kaminsky on the bench, thanks in large part to Brust scoring eight consecutive that lifted the decibel level.
It was all Wisconsin after that, as the Badgers went on a 69-11 run, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 43.5 percent from the 3-point line for the game.
Champions of the Patriot League, the Eagles – whose 49.5 field goal percentage was seventh in the country- shot 53.8 percent (7-for-13) in the early going, but became stymied by Wisconsin's length and defense. American (20-13) shot 29.7 percent from the floor, attempting 15 fewer shots than Wisconsin, and made only three attempts in a second half in which they were outscored 43-13.
The Eagles' 13 points in the second half were the fewest in a half for a Badgers opponent in a modern era NCAA tournament game.
- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com
NCAA Tournament Notes
UW will make its 20th appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Badgers are 26-18 (.590) all-time in the Big Dance, advancing to the 2000 Final Four and winning the 1941 NCAA title.
UW has had a top-5 seed in 7 of the last 8 years.
Wisconsin has qualified for each of the last 16 consecutive NCAA tournaments, the 4th-longest active streak in the country and it ties as the 7th-longest in NCAA history.
UW's 16 consecutive NCAA tournaments also ranks as the 3rd-longest streak in Big Ten history. Only Indiana's streak of 18 straight (1986-2003) and Michigan State's active streak of 17 consecutive are longer.
The Badgers have been to the NCAA tournament in each of Bo Ryan's 13 seasons at Wisconsin. In Ryan's first 12 NCAA tournament appearances, UW owns a 17-12 (.586) record and has advanced to five Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight in 2005. Wisconsin's 16 NCAA tournament wins since 2001-02 (Bo Ryan era) rank 13th in the nation and 3rd among Big Ten teams (Michigan State 23, Ohio State 18).
UW has advanced to five Sweet 16s in the last 11 years. Only 5 schools - Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina and Syracuse - have made more trips to the Round of 16 than Wisconsin over that span.
Oregon and Wisconsin have played in five different cities: San Francisco, Iowa City, Portland, Madison and Eugene.
The last time Wisconsin played Oregon, Jay Peters' buzzer beater gave UW a 72-70 victory in Eugene.
Wisconsin is 23-31 against the current members of the Pac-12 conference, but UW is on a three-game winning streak against the Pac-12, including an 81-56 home victory over California in 2012.
Badgers are 2-1 all-time against current members of the Pac-12 in the NCAA tournament, including beating Washington State for the 1941 national title.
The Badgers face Oregon's Mike Moser in 2011 when he played for UNLV. UW would claim a 62-51 win over the Rebels as Moser scored just four points on 2-for-7 shooting in 27 minutes.
Wisconsin held American to just 35 points, the fewest for a UW opponent in the NCAA tournament in the modern era and the lowest total since 1941. UW held Pittsburgh to 30 points and Washington State to 34 on its way to the NCAA title.
The Badgers made their first 13 free throw attempts and finished the game 13 of 14 (.929) from the line. That's UW's best FT percentage in an NCAA tournament game in school history.
Wisconsin has made 586 free throws on the season, setting a new school single-season record, breaking the previous high mark of 583 set in 2006-06.
Wisconsin forced 17 turnovers in its second-round game against American, a new season high.
Oregon's bench has scored 982 points so far this season, averaging 29.8 points per game by its reserves. By comparison, opponents are getting 16.1 points per game off the bench (530 total).
Oregon has now set the school record for most victories in both a three-year span, and a four-year span. The Ducks have 97 wins over the last four seasons and 76 wins over the last three seasons.
Eight Ducks have previous NCAA tournament experience.
Oregon's perimeter defense has shown marked improvement the last 15 games. During that span, only three opponents have shot better than 32 percent from beyond the arc and six of 15 teams hit 25 percent or less.
Losing three seniors out of their lineup last season and relying on two true freshmen off the bench, Wisconsin's five seniors were asked to chew up heavy minutes throughout long stretches of the season. Despite logging heavy minutes through 24 games, the starting five hasn't missed a beat.
Starting every game to this point of the season and all averaging at least 26 minutes (four with at least 30), four of Wisconsin's starting five are averaging in double figures and the only one who isn't (Josh Gasser) earned a spot on the conference's all-defensive team after missing last season with a torn ACL.
"It's about being confident and playing together," said Dekker. "I don't think anyone at one time is taking the full load of the whole offense. We are so balanced that guys have possessions here and there where they're making passes on the wing or taking drives to the lane. I think being balanced and looking to each other psychologically wants to keep you on the court because you get a good rhythm and you don't feel as tired."
Maintenance and rest has become as integral a part of the game plan as the x's and o's over the last several weeks. According to assistant coach Lamont Paris, the amount of rest the coaching staff has tried to give players has been a consistent thought throughout the entire season that gets extra attention with the amount of challenging games packed into a tight window.
"It's a long season, especially if you make a run in the postseason," said Paris. "We're playing guys who have played a lot of minutes. We're conscious of it at practice. It's an equation of all these factors. I think we've done a good job of being aware of that."
A tip of the cap has also been given to strength-and-conditioning coach Erik Helland, who is in his first season with the Badgers after spending 25 years with the NBA's Chicago Bulls. Starting in the summer for the start of the team's summer conditioning plan, Helland put the team through a movement-based warmup , transition into working on linear speeds or a variety of other conditioning and then lift for an hour, doing lifts that have a high athletic component in favor of using machines.
"We don't do anything that is supported or things like that," Helland told us previously. "Guys are on their feet, they're challenging their athleticism and finish up with a little bit of core workouts and challenging their flexibility."
Nobody has benefited more from him than Dekker. After coming in at a lanky 191 pounds last season, Dekker has added weight, but is leaner than a year ago. He also feels more explosive, more fluid and has increased his vertical jump. He attributes those changes to Helland being keen on agility, flexibility and doing different weight lifts that affect more on-court performance than massive muscle gain. Prior to the start of this season, Dekker weighed 220 pounds.
"Eric got us in very good shape to play, to get up and down," said Dekker. "We did a lot of offseason conditioning and running the floor that it's translated pretty well in our games this year. I think we are an in shape team who can shoot well late in games."
That was evident as the Badgers' pulled away from American in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and will be critical to keep pace with Oregon and its fast-paced offense tonight. The Ducks average 82 points per game, seventh best in the country, and have not been held under 63 points in a game all season.
Although the Badgers have won games this season by scoring in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 100s, not to mention putting up offensive numbers that are highs in the Bo Ryan era, the success or failure of Wisconsin is still dependant on the Badgers' defense.
In two of the last four games, Wisconsin has allowed an opponent to run its offense and play its tempo in the first half, resulting in an opponent get in a rhythm that's hard to break. Case and point, the Spartans shot 65.4 percent (17-for-26) and was over 80 percent for long stretches of the first half in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. Michigan State built a 21-point lead and never looked back.
"I thought we were playing well in a hostile environment, but credit to them because they did the things they do well," Jackson said of the Michigan State game. "We just didn't close it out, and I think it had to do a little bit with that. We didn't come ready on offense when we were getting scored on on defense. We didn't stop enough things on defense to help us out on offense. We're a better offensive team when we get stops. We're a better defensive team when we score. The two work hand in hand together."
In addition to shutting down penetration from Oregon's quicker guards, Wisconsin will likely win or lose base on how they defend the perimeter, where they are allowing teams to shoot 34.1 percent on the season. In eight of their nine losses, the Ducks shot less than 36 percent from deep, including less than 26 percent in four of those games. In Oregon's opening win against BYU, the Ducks went 2-for-13 from 3-point range.
The last time Wisconsin had a chance to advance to the Sweet 16 in Milwaukee, the Badgers lost to the more talented team. This time being the team with more talent, I like the Badgers to head west and the Sweet 16 with an eight-point win.
Worgull's Record: 23-11
Points off Prediction: 329 (9.7 per game)