Date/Time -Saturday, March 29, 7:49 p.m. Central
Arena –Honda Center (18,336)
Television -TBS (Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and Craig Sager)
Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)
Series – Wisconsin leads 3-2 (Wisconsin leads 3-1 on neutral courts)
Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 65-61, on Nov.23, 2009, in the EA Sports Maui Invitational
Wisconsin Probable Starters
1 Ben Brust (6-1 Senior Guard, 13.0 ppg)
12 Traevon Jackson (6-2 Junior Guard, 10.7 ppg)
15 Sam Dekker (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.5 ppg)
21 Josh Gasser (6-3 Junior Guard, 9.1 ppg)
44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Junior Forward, 13.7 ppg)
Off the Bench
10 Nigel Hayes (6-7 Freshman Forward, 7.9 ppg)
13 Duje Dukan (6-9 Junior Forward, 2.8 ppg)
24 Bronson Koenig (6-3 Freshman Guard, 3.3 ppg)
Arizona Probable Starters
1 Gabe York (6-3 Sophomore Guard, 6.9 ppg)
4 T.J. McConnell (6-1 Junior Guard, 8.4 ppg)
11 Aaron Gordon (6-9 Freshman Forward, 12.5 ppg)
13 Nick Johnson (6-3 Junior Guard, 16.3 ppg)
35 Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0 Sophomore Center, 9.9 ppg)
Off the Bench
20 Jordin Mayer (6-3 Senior Guard, 1.2 ppg)
23 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (6-7 Freshman Forward, 9.1 ppg)
Last Time Out
Starting out slow in its first two tournament games, second-seeded Wisconsin made quick work out of sixth-seeded Baylor in a 69-52 walloping at the Honda Center Thursday night.
Frank Kaminsky scored a game-high 19 points to go along with a career-high six blocks, as the Badgers (26-7) shot 52 percent from the field and have won its first three tournament game by an average of 21.6 points.
It's hard to imagine Wisconsin can get any better after what Gasser and his teammates unleashed on Baylor in the first meeting between the two programs.
The Badgers trailed by seven and 14 points in the first halves of their games against American and Oregon, respectively, last weekend in Milwaukee, but broke the mold against a Baylor team brimming with length and athleticism in the low post and a vaunted 1-3-1 zone defense.
In the first 20 minutes, Wisconsin broke the zone by going on a pair of 8-0 runs and a 7-0 run, doing most of its damage in the low post courtesy of Kaminsky. Scoring eight of UW's first 10 points, Kaminsky did all his offensive damage in the paint. The Badgers carved out a 16 points in the paint in the first half and went after 7-1 shot blocker Isaiah Austin early and often, eventually drawing a pair of first-half fouls to send him to the bench.
When Kaminsky wasn't carving up the paint, senior Ben Brust (14 points) sank 3-pointers or Nigel Hayes provided a lift off the bench, scoring six of his 10 points and securing five of his six rebounds in the first half.
On the flip side, the Bears (26-12) missed 12 of their first 15 shots in rout to scoring a season-low 16 first half points. Despite all its size on the interior, the Bears managed only six points in the paint. That also was a nod to Kaminsky, who had blocks on three straight possessions in the first half.
Wisconsin shot 48.1 percent in the first half, using timely ball fakes to create clear lanes and stayed patient offensively to find the open man in the Baylor zone. The result was Wisconsin registered 10 assists on its first 11 field goals and 18 of 26 for the game.
The Bears had averaged 14.0 second chance points per game, but were held scoreless in the category in the first half and finished with just seven.
After trailing for only 7 minutes, 24 seconds during 240 previous minutes of postseason play this year, Baylor led only 1 minute, 36 seconds in the game and trailed by double digits the final 25:38.
- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com
Holding a 14-point lead barely six minutes in, it appeared the University of Wisconsin basketball team was going to make an early-season statement to a national television audience in one of the nation's premier preseason tournaments.
The Badgers certainly accomplished that early. It was the rest of the game that almost became the problem ... until two upperclassmen stepped to the forefront.
With a team saddled with foul trouble and a cold second-half shooting touch, senior Trevon Hughes and junior Keaton Nankivil came to the rescue, scoring 14 of UW's final 16 points to withstand a late Arizona charge and advance to the semifinals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational with a 65-61 victory.
Hughes' team-high 24 points was one point off his career high. He also had a career-high-tying seven rebounds and five steals in 37 minutes.
"That's a big step, especially in Maui and for all those people out East and Midwest that can't sleep well tonight. All the insomniacs," UW coach Bo Ryan said of Hughes, who also added a career-best two blocks. "I thought he stepped up in a game where two teams were pretty even. I think he made a big difference."
After registering 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists in the first half of UW's last victory over Oakland, Hughes had a mediocre second half that included two points, two turnovers and just one assist. He was on that same path again Monday night.
Hughes scored 13 first-half points, registered four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block only to be 1-of-5 from the field, including two missed free throws, through the first 14:30, as Hughes and the Badgers watched Arizona take its first lead of the ball game.
From there he took over. He drained a three-pointer to give UW the lead right back at 52-49 and made 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch. Despite the ornate amount of pressure, Wisconsin took care of the basketball, committing only eight turnovers, and turning 14 Arizona turnovers into 18 points.
- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com
Wisconsin is 1-1 against Arizona in the NCAA tournament, beating No.1 seed Arizona in the round of 32 in Salt Lake City in 2000 and losing to No.8 Arizona in Philadelphia in 2006.
Badgers are 3-1 all-time against current members of the Pac-12 in the NCAA tournament, including beating Oregon in the third round of this year's tournament Washington State for the 1941 national title 73 years ago today.
Wisconsin is 24-31 against the current members of the Pac-12 conference, but UW is on a four-game winning streak against the Pac-12.
Wisconsin advances to the Elite 8 for the third time in school history and the second time under Bo Ryan. UW's last appearance in the NCAA regional final was in 2005 when the Badgers lost to eventual national champion, North Carolina, 88-82, in Syracuse, N.Y.
Baylor's 16 points in the first half were the Bears' fewest in a half this season. Their previous low was 21 vs. Kansas State on Feb. 15. Baylor's 52 points also tied their season low for a game (vs. Kansas on Feb. 4).
Wisconsin has allowed just 164 points in three NCAA tournament games, an average of 54.7 points per game.
The Badgers have won 29 games this season, third-most in school history. This year's squad trails only the 2006-07 team (30 wins) and the 2007-08 team (31 wins).
Arizona is ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense (58.2) and fifth in field goal percentage defense (38.0); the Wildcats lead the nation in effective defensive efficiency, allowing just 87.2 points per 100 possessions.
Arizona's interior defense has been stellar, limiting opponents to 40.2 percent shooting inside the arc to rank second nationally in two-point field goal percentage defense; UA also ranks 21st nationally at just 16.6 fouls per game.
Since the 1984-85 campaign, the Wildcats have strung together a Pac-12-best 29-consecutive winning seasons. Over that same time span, UA is tied for fourth nationally in terms of 20-win seasons with 27 such performances. The Wildcats have won an average of 24.7 games per season during that time.
UA is turning its Pac-12-best average of 12.2 offensive rebounds into 11.8 points per game, outscoring its opponents by an average of +3.7 points on second-shot opportunities. More than 15 percent of Arizona's total points this season have been second-chance points with each of UA's top four frontcourt players averaging at least 1.9 offensive rebounds per game.
Does Bo Ryan need a Final Four?
That's the underlining theme of tonight's matchup with Arizona and Wisconsin and has been the talk amongst the throng of media – both local and national – in the hours since the Badgers dismantled Baylor in the Sweet 16. His 703 wins are the sixth most by any Division 1 coach to not have coached in a Final Four.
"It would definitely be a very special accomplishment," said Brust, "and I'd be honored to be a part of it."
But in the same breath, Brust added that Wisconsin can't overlook the top seeded team in the West Region that was ranked No.1 in the country for eight weeks this past season.
"We can't be looking ahead," said Brust. "We've just got to stay focused on what's at task, and that is Arizona is a great team. So Coach has been doing the same thing we've been doing all year which is getting us prepared the best we can, and he's given us the tools to be successful. Now it's our job to go out there and get the job done."
Ryan has always been about the next 40 minutes, which is the approach he has taken in his 13th NCAA tournament as the head coach of Wisconsin. In each public forum, Ryan says he has thanked his players for taking him along for the ride and giving him another 40 minutes to coach this season.
Ryan has been noticeable loose throughout this tournament run (Dekker joked that Hayes must have given him a massage), but there's nobody more competitive and wanting to win on Ryan, something that has rubbed off on his players.
"With Coach Ryan, I will tell you he's so detailed oriented," said Kaminsky. "With everything we do, if we don't do it to the perfect details, you know, he's upset with it. He's just so into everything. He examines everything and really gives us the instruction from what he sees, and he sees everything really well."
These two teams share a lot of similarities. Arizona has had four double-digit scorers in 24 games this season, while Wisconsin has put four players into double digits 23 times.
The Wildcats have outrebounded their opponents in 27 games this season with a plus-7.2 rebounding edge, while Wisconsin has a plus-7.7 edge in its three tournament games. There is also the fact that both teams' point guards – Arizona's McConnell and Wisconsin's Jackson – have gone through long stretches of sparking ball security.
But even more than the x's and o's today is how special a Final Four would mean to him, his program, his players and especially his family. It's well known that Ryan brought his father, Butch, as his plus-one to the Final Four every year since he was hired as an assistant at Wisconsin in 1976. Ironically, that Final four was in Philadelphia, just a short drive from Ryan's hometown of Chester, Pennsylvania. It became a yearly tradition of father-son bonding.
"My dad had a way of people never forgetting him," said Ryan. "If you met him, you didn't forget him because he'd have had a story or there would have been something that you would have remembered, mostly good."
Butch Ryan died on August 30 at the age of 89. He saw his son win four national championships at UW-Platteville, win Big Ten titles at Wisconsin but never made a Final Four. And if Ryan falls short tonight, next year or for the rest of his coaching career, so be it.
"Being here to this point, or if we move on, whatever it is, it doesn't define a person," said Bo Ryan. "But, I think, and my mom had passed away seven months before (my dad), I think they realize they did a pretty good job in helping their son and daughter realize what life was all about."
Bo Ryan doesn't need a Final Four to validate his career, but it certainly would be the cherry on top.
Butch Ryan would have been 90 today, Wisconsin won its only national title 73 years ago today and UW beat a No.1 seeded Arizona to get to its only Final Four 14 years ago. That's too much irony to not pick the Badgers to advance with a three-point win.
I think these two teams are very even and this is a coin-flip game, but I believe Wisconsin is the better overall team and should win by five.
Worgull's Record: 25-11
Points off Prediction: 341 (9.5 per game)