Time: 7:27 EST
TV: Tru TV (Tip off at least)
Wisconsin has had a rough end of the year. After finishing the regular season with a thorough drubbing at the hands of the #1 overall seed, the Badgers played the ugliest B1G game of the season against Penn St. They played the lowest scoring game in Big Ten Tournament history with a total of 69 points between the two teams. It was not exactly the momentum boost that Wisconsin was looking for, and it is not giving them any confidence before their first round match up Thursday.
Wisconsin will need to stick to their game plan and follow their fearless leader Bo Ryan to secure a victory tomorrow in Tucson. The Badgers slow, plodding offensive style lends well to their clock control game plan that resembles their gridiron counterparts at the university. It was key throughout the season in forcing their style/pace on opposing teams, and kept most opponents off balance.
Belmont comes into this match up with a high octane offense and a stout defense. The Atlantic Sun Champions boast one of the most efficient defenses in the country. They are also a very good rebounding team, but more importantly they can run on you. They average 80.4 points per game, which is good enough to be the 11th highest scoring offense in the country.
However, they are going up against the most efficient offense in the country in the Wisconsin Badgers. The Bruins will need to create disruption and force bad shots if they have any chance of controlling the pace or outcome of this game. Belmont has not faced any team like Wisconsin all year, and certainly not one of their caliber. The best game they played may be their match up with Tennessee that they lost by one in late December. Wisconsin's defense is stingy, but not from forcing turnovers, they simply suffocate teams and force bad shots.
As flashy as Belmont may be, I cannot see the Badgers struggling against this lower conference opponent. The Badgers are too good on offense to fall into any kind of turnover game against a low seed, even one with as good a defense as Belmont has. The Badgers will need to stick to their game plan and slow everything down to a crawl, BUT they also need to hit shots. The Penn State game taught us that a poorly shooting Badger squad can be beat, even at their own pace.