Baylor came out strong and put together a performance few thought was possible by beating high-scoring Creighton by 30 and holding Doug McDermott to one of his lowest total points of the season with 15. Wisconsin will need to be ready and be able to slow down a team hitting its peak at the right time.
In this Badger Nation feature, we will look at the three keys or questions for Wisconsin to have success against Baylor in their Sweet 16 matchup.
Lay up: Can Wisconsin put two halves together?
Through the first two tournament games, Wisconsin hasn't been able to put two complete halves together due to suffering through scoring droughts in the first half. Even though Wisconsin has been able to rebound in the second half by going on impressive runs either by putting the game out of reach or closing the gap.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Wisconsin has done a great job of making halftime adjustments thus far in the tournament. If you examine Wisconsin's stats, the Badgers are outscoring their opponents 91-to-41 in the second half alone. In Wisconsin's last 10 games, the Badgers have also shot the basketball at a higher rate in the second half (48 percent) opposed to the first (43 percent). But this stat will make Coach Bo Ryan really happy, as the Badgers are averaging 2.6 turnovers in the last 20 minutes opposed to the 4.2 turnovers in the first half.
Against Oregon the Badgers suffered through a 4 minutes, 46 second field goal drought in the first half and allowed Oregon to build on its lead. Every team is going to go through droughts, but one way to combat droughts is trying to get to the free throw line. In years past Wisconsin would go through long scoring droughts without managing points, but this year Wisconsin has been able to get to the line during the period of time when shots aren't falling.
If any player is going to get to the free throw line on a consistent basis, it's Nigel Hayes, who leads the team with 162 free throw attempts and is third on the team with 96 made free throws. Hayes is going to have to find ways to attack so he can pick up the foul if he gets the basketball down low and convert three-point opportunities. Hayes has gotten better over the last several weeks by finishing plays around the rim as he's being fouled. If he can continue that against Baylor, it will help Wisconsin stay in a rhythm.
It may be hard for Wisconsin consistently get the basketball down low in the paint with Baylor playing a 1-3-1 zone but when Wisconsin does, Hayes will need to try and take advantage of the opportunity by converting.
Austin played a complete game against Creighton scoring 17 points on 7-for-11 from the field. Not only was Austin a threat in the paint but was able to defend the rim by recording two of Baylor's three blocks and altering countless shots.
Averaging 11.2 points a game on the season, Austin is averaging 15 points per game in the tournament and has been on roll by scoring in double figures the last six games. If Kaminsky can get physical with him down low or take away any post moves of Austin, it will force him to pass the basketball out.
In order for Kaminsky to have success against Austin on the offensive end he'll once again have to be aggressive around the hoop and try to stretch the floor by trying to knock down some three's in the game.
Even if Austin can slow Kaminsky down in the paint or getting a hand on a shot, Austin is averaging 3.2 blocks a game. He needs to try and at least try and draw a foul. Austin is averaging 2.4 fouls a game has fouled out of two games this year and five other games where he's picked up four fouls. If Kaminsky can force Austin to pick up fouls early, it will take away one less threat for Baylor.
3-pointer: Can Wisconsin slow down Baylor's offense?
Baylor was clicking on all cylinders on offense against Creighton going 30-for-47 (63.8 percent) from the field and an impressive 11-for-18 (61.1 percent) from three. Wisconsin has to hope that the red-hot shooting by Baylor is done, or they will be a difficult team to beat.
Like the Badgers, the Bears have shown that they can receive balance scoring out of their starters, with all five scoring in double figures against Creighton. Brady Heslip - one of Baylor's top scoring threats - had 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting and went 5-for-7 from three. Heslip doesn't necessarily look to drive the basketball to the hoop during games, as he's more interested in settling for perimeter shots. Josh Gasser is going to have to try and consistently get a hand in his face because Heslip has a quick enough release to get his shot off if he gets any space off of screens. Like Austin, Heslip has reached double figures over the last five games.
Unlike Oregon, the Bears don't necessarily like trying to get out in transition unless there's an opportunity to push. In the last five games, Baylor is averaging 11.4 points off of turnovers and is forcing 10.4 turnovers a game on the season, 5.2, which come off of steals.
With Baylor shooting 45 percent from the field on the season, Wisconsin can't allow many second chance opportunities, with the Bears are averaging 13.8 offensive rebounds a game. If Austin can get the rebound over Kaminsky and kick the basketball out to Heslip or another guard, the Bears could make the Badgers pay by knocking down an open shot.