After a very successful regular season (exceptional if you exclude the period when they went 1-5) the Wisconsin Badgers have earned the second seed in the West region, and an opening round matchup with 15 seed American University.
Predictions for the Badgers' tournament success have been pretty scattered. Plenty of analysts have been picking Wisconsin to win the region and advance to the Final Four, but there also have been people who say that they will lose to Oregon in the round of 32 (in Milwaukee!). Of 27 "bracket experts", eight picked Wisconsin to go to the Final Four. All but four others picked Arizona.
Assuming Wisconsin can get by American, they will likely face seven seed Oregon. The Ducks have won eight of their last nine and play a fast paced offensive game, averaging nearly 82 points per game. However, with a home crowd in Milwaukee I fully expect the Badgers to take advantage of poor Oregon rebounding, and the fact that they allow 26.8 opponent free throw attempts per game.
In the Sweet 16, Wisconsin will most likely face three seed Creighton, armed with one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball history in Doug McDermott. The Bluejays shoot an insane 50% from the floor, Behind McDermott's 26.9 points per game.
The key to beating Creighton obviously is containing McDermott however you can. At 6' 8", 225 pounds, he has a similar frame to Sam Dekker. It will take a total team effort to stop him, and the idea of playing someone in the Sweet 16 who has the ability to put the team on his back and hit shots from everywhere really scares the Badger fan in me (I was present to see Steph Curry dominate Wisconsin in 2008).
If they can make it to the Elite Eight, there are plenty of possibilities for who the Badgers could play in the West Regional Final. Arizona is the clear favorite as the one seed in the region, teams like nine seed Oklahoma State and four seed San Diego State certainly could put up a good game against Arizona.
It's hard not to like Wisconsin's chances to make a run this year. All season, it has felt like when they're on a roll they can play with any team in the country. Opening the tournament in front of a Wisconsin crowd in Milwaukee should do a lot to get their confidence high, especially after losing two of their final three games to end the season. If the Badgers are making their shots and playing strong interior defense, there's no reason why we couldn't see them in North Texas come the end of the month.