No.16 Coastal Carolina (24-9, 12-6 Big South) vs. No.1 Wisconsin (31-3, 16-2 Big Ten)
Date/Time -Friday, March 20, 8:20 p.m. Central
Arena – CenturyLink Center (17,630) - Omaha, Nebraska
Television -TBS (Marv Albert, Len Elmore, Chris Webber)
Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)
National Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Kevin Kugler and Will Perdue)
Series – Wisconsin leads 2-0 (First meeting on a neutral court)
Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 92-54, on November 26, 2005 in Madison
Wisconsin Probable Starters
10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.4 ppg)
15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 13.0 ppg)
21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 6.9 ppg)
24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 8.6 ppg)
44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 18.2 ppg)
Off the Bench
3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.0 ppg)
12 Traevon Jackson (6-3 Senior Guard, 9.4 ppg)
13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 5.0 ppg)
30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Guard, 2.0 ppg)
Coastal Carolina Probable Starters
0 Warren Gillis (6-3 Senior Guard, 13.1 ppg)
3 Josh Cameron (6-1 Senior Guard, 12.9 ppg)
10 Shivaughn Wiggins (5-11 Senior Forward, 10.2 ppg)
21 Tristian Curtis (6-7 Junior Forward, 4.6 ppg)
23 Badou Diagne (6-7 Junior Guard, 9.6 ppg)
Off the Bench
12 Michael Enanga (6-6 Junior Forward, 2.7 ppg)
22 Elijah Wilson (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 11.1 ppg)
35 Marcus Freeman (6-8 Junior Forward, 5.3 ppg)
Wisconsin (4-0) won despite forward Alando Tucker's quiet night. He took only one shot from the floor, finishing with five points and two rebounds. Tucker had averaged 22.7 points in the Badgers' first three games.
Wisconsin forced the Chanticleers (0-2) into 22 turnovers and held Coastal Carolina to 38 percent (19-of-49) shooting from the field.
Jack Leasure went just 1-of-10 from 3-point range for Coastal Carolina and committed six turnovers.
Taylor hit all three of his 3-pointers in the first half as the Badgers built a 41-17 lead.
Wisconsin, who starts the 6-foot-11 Butch and 6-foot-10 Jason Chappell, exploited its size advantage over the Chanticleers and outrebounded them 38-25.
By the second half, Wisconsin went deep into its bench - 11 different Badgers scored and Wisconsin's reserves outscored those of Coastal Carolina 35-5.
- Associated Press
Last Time Out
CHICAGO – With its back firmly against the wall, Wisconsin closed the game on a 34-12 run, including scoring all 11 points in overtime, to shock third-seeded Michigan State, 80-69, for the Badgers’ third Big Ten tournament title and first since 2008.
“Even I’m speechless and that’s hard to do,” said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. “It was the fight in this group, and to do what they did when it seemed like Michigan State couldn’t do anything wrong. I just hope we have something left in us come NCAA Tournament time.”
Nigel Hayes tied his career high with 25 points and was a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line; Kaminsky finished with 19 points, including a huge 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation; Bronson Koenig – without a field goal and only one point through the first 29:17 – scored 17 of his 18 points down the stretch.
Wisconsin (31-3) tied the program record for single season wins with the 2007-08 team, a group that also swept the conference titles, and earned the program’s first number one seed, playing No.16 Coastal Carolina in the West Region in Omaha, Neb., on Friday.
And they’re going in after one of their most thrilling victories of the season.
Dominating the paint and riding a wave of momentum from its semifinals victory over Maryland, Michigan State (23-11) nearly had two hands around its second straight Big Ten tournament trophy, and fifth overall, thanks to shooting over 60 percent midway through the second half and building its double-digit lead.
Like Wisconsin had done throughout the tournament, Michigan State’s run was quick and effective. After a Kaminsky layup gave Wisconsin a 38-34 lead, the Spartans executed a 23-8 run by pounding the paint and pushing the tempo. The Spartans first three buckets were engineered off back cuts for baskets at the rim, as Michigan State scored 14 of its 36 points in the paint on the jaunt.
Dawson (16 points) was responsible for six of them, including the steal off Sam Dekker and a thunderous jam at the opposite end. Even Michigan State’s free throw shooting was unstoppable. A team that shoots 62.7 percent from the free throw line, tied for 333rd out of 347 teams, the Spartans were a perfect 9-for-9.
It was then that the law of averages finally took over.
It started simply enough, a Koenig 3-pointer to cut the lead to 57-49, appearing to be a blip on the radar after Gavin Schilling dunked home two points to push the lead back to 10.
But then Kaminsky had a 3-point play and the points keep coming: Koenig registered a layup, Hayes attacking for an old-fashioned 3-point play, Koenig with another 3-pointer and Hayes with two free throws.
In a span of five possessions, Wisconsin scored 14 points, a 14-3 run to tie the game.
From that point on it was a fight. Four more lead changes over the final 4:16 delivered countless turning points. Kaminsky’s a 3-pointer from the top of the key gave Wisconsin a 67-64 lead with 1:04 remaining, only to see Denzel Valentine (16 points) answer with a 3-pointer on the next possession over Kaminsky.
After Travis Trice, who Gasser limited to only six points, hit a layup with 44.9 left, Gasser dove into press row on the ensuing possession to save a rebound, a confused melee that caused Valentine to heave the ball down court, Dekker to retrieve the turnover and Koenig to hit two free throws to tie the game with 15 seconds left after driving to the rim.
Wisconsin methodically worked the clock down with fouls to give and when Dawson’s wing jumper rimmed out with no time remaining, the Badgers took control. Given new life, Wisconsin outscored Michigan State 11-0 in overtime, with Hayes (7) and Koenig (4) scoring all the points and the Spartans going 0-for-6 with two turnovers in the extra session.
- Benjamin Worgull, BadgerNation.com
Wisconsin is 6-0 all-time against members of the Big South. The Badgers last faced a Big South team in 2012 when they beat Presbyterian, 88-43, at the Kohl Center in Madison.Wisconsin has played two previous NCAA tournament games in Omaha, going 2-0 at the CenturyLink Center in 2008. That season, the No. 3 seeded Badgers defeated No. 14 Cal St. Fullerton, 71-56, and No. 11 Kansas State, 72-55, to advance to the Sweet 16.
Coastal Carolina head coach Cliff Ellis has never faced the Wisconsin Badgers in his 1,126-game Division I coaching career.
Badgers in NCAA tournament
UW will make its 21st appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Badgers are 29-19 (.604) all-time in the Big Dance, advancing to the 2000 and 2014 Final Fours and winning the 1941 NCAA title.
The Badgers earned a No. 1 seed in the West Region, the first time UW has held a top seed in school history. Wisconsin has twice been a No. 2 seed, earning that in 2007 as well as last season en route to the Final Four.
UW has had a top-4 seed in seven of the last nine years. The Badgers are 12-6 as a top-4 seed.
Wisconsin has qualified for each of the last 17 consecutive NCAA tournaments, the fourth-longest active streak in the country and tied for the sixth-longest in NCAA history.UW’s 17 consecutive NCAA tournaments also ranks as the third-longest streak in Big Ten history. Only Indiana’s streak of 18 straight (1986-2003) and Michigan State’s active streak of 18 consecutive are longer.
Wisconsin has won seven of its last eight opening round games and is 11-2 in NCAA openers under Bo Ryan overall.
In UW’s last eight opening-round games, opponents have scored an average of just 53.3 points per game. The last opening-round opponent to score at least 60 points against the Badgers was Texas A&M Corpus Christi in 2007 (63 points).
Kaminsky is the only player in NCAA Div. 1 averaging at least 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.
Of Wisconsin’s 31 wins, 26 have come by double digits, including 15 of the team’s 19 wins over Big Ten teams.
According to Ken Pomeroy, the Badgers rank No. 1 in offensive efficiency this season, averaging 124.7 points per 100 possessions (Notre Dame is 2nd, 122.2). The Badgers are also tied for the nation’s top Points Per Possession mark averaging 1.21. That is on pace to be the highest PPP of the Bo Ryan era.
Dating back to Feb. of 2011, UW is 113-3 when leading or tied with 5:00 left, including a mark of 30-0 this season. The only losses over the last 5 years have been to Kentucky (led 69-65) and Ohio State (led 54-50) last season and at Minnesota in 2012-13 season (led 49-43).
Wisconsin has been ranked in the AP top 10 for 19 consecutive weeks, the longest streak in program history. Prior to this season, the Badgers’ longest stay in the top 10 was a streak of 14 straight weeks during the 2006-07 season.
Coastal Carolina Notes
While Coastal Carolina may be 0-3 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, head coach Cliff Ellis is 8-9 in the tournament with a pair of Sweet 16 appearances (1990 with Clemson and 2003 with Auburn). Ellis, who is making his 10th trip to the NCAA Tournament, has led each institution he has coached at to at least two NCAA Tournament berths.
The 2014-15 Chanticleers have an overall shooting percentage of 43.9, but when the Chants shoot over 40.0 percent in a game this season they are 17-6 with their only losses coming at UCLA, at Chattanooga, at Ole Miss, versus Gardner-Webb, versus Winthrop and at Charleston Southern. In CCU’s 12 conference wins, the Chants shot a combined 46.3 percent from the field.
33 games through the season the Chanticleers have controlled the battle on the boards. The team currently ranks fourth among the 355 NCAA Division I teams with a +8.6 rebounding margin. Coastal averages 39.8 rebounds per game, while only allowing its opponents to collect 31.1.
The Chants have won the rebounding battle in 23 of their 33 games, including a 41-32 advantage against a larger Auburn team, and are 15-3 in those games.
Over the past 10 games Diagne, Curtis and Freeman have controlled 50.4 percent (206-of-408) of Coastal’s rebounds. When forward Michel Enanga is added into the mix, the front court mates have collected 239 of 408 total rebounds (58.5 percent).
Bo Ryan said it as much on Monday about Coastal Carolina: “They are a heckuva 16 seed.”
Coastal Carolina almost became the tournament’s bracket buster last year, shooting 52 percent in the first half, including 5-for-10 on 3-point attempts, and built a 10-point lead at 31-21 with 4:25 left in the half. Coastal still led by five points at halftime, becoming the ninth No. 16 seed to hold a lead at the break, before Virginia opened the second half with a 15-6 run. Coastal Carolina lost by 11 but a majority of those players are back and can certainly give Wisconsin a run for its money.
Diagne scored 19 points in the conference tournament semifinals with a display of dunks and jumpers in the paint along with showing his range as he went 2-of-2 from three. He followed that up by going 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
Wilson hit seven 3-pointers en route to a career-high 29 points in the tournament quarterfinals. Since making the move to the sixth man role, Wilson has scored 97 points (16.2 ppg). Cameron – a native of Racine – scored 17, 16, 16, 13 and 16 in his final five games of the regular season.
“They're in the tournament for a reason,” said Gasser. “They're a good team; they won their conference championship, and obviously that Virginia game stands out as something that we definitely realized, watched film on and understand that they're good. So we got to come out ready to play, and we got to play our best ball to come out with the win.”
The winning formula is easy to see on the roster. Although Coastal Carolina is sixth in the country in rebounding and fourth in rebounding margin, the Chanticleers don’t start any player over 6-7 and don’t have a player in their rotation over 6-8. Considering the Badgers start a frontcourt that is 6-8, 6-9 and 7-0 (with the 7-footer being the best player in college basketball), that’s something the Badgers will have to exploit.
The other part of Wisconsin was shown in the conference tournament. Despite the exceedingly high expectations this team is carrying with them in this tournament, the Badgers haven’t faltered when adversity has stuck. Case and point, UW overcoming three deficits to win the conference tournament.
“Here’s the thing I think this group has figured out,” said associate head coach Greg Gard. “They don’t play to the scoreboard. They play for every possession every day and if adverse moments come within that, they absorb that and try to get the next one. I think they’ve moved beyond worrying where the scoreboard (says). It’s about trying to be as perfect as possible on every possession. When you get to that point as a program, you’ve obviously got something pretty special.
“They very rarely get flustered. They don’t get flustered in practice. Scout team could be drilling them and they keep chipping away, battling back. They’ve had that one-possession-at-a-time attitude.”
A 16 seed has never beaten a top seed in the NCAA tournament. Gasser doesn’t labeled that as added pressure because there’s already pressure in the one-and-done NCAA tournament. The difference is Gasser labels it as “good pressure,” something UW has worked for and prepared for.
“We know if we want to make a run in this tournament, we're going to have to play our best basketball of this season,” added Kaminsky. “Nothing from the Big Ten Tournament or the Big Ten schedule or anything like that matters now. We know that if we don't play our best basketball, we could be going home and that could be the end of our careers. So we're just going to do whatever we can to keep playing as well as we can.”
Coastal Carolina will test Wisconsin. Heck, they might even have a lead over the Badgers in the second half, but the Badgers are too good, talented and motivated to make a deep run in this tournament. Wisconsin moved on to Sunday with a 17-point win.
Worgull's Record: 32-2
Points off Prediction: 250 (7.4 per game)