Once the Badger faithful discovered that they would receive the number one seed located in the West Region, a few things came to mind. First was the reality that they were going to avoid playing Kentucky until at least the Final Four. The next item that started to gain a lot of conversation was the idea of possibly meeting up with Arizona once again in the Elite Eight out on the West Coast. This year's Elite Eight contest will take place in Los Angeles, but that won't stop the Big Red fans from showing up and making some noise.
#1 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #2 Arizona Wildcats 6:09ET on TBS
With the chance to earn the first of four spots at the Final Four in Indy, Wisconsin will be challenged by an up tempo Arizona team that is used to winning big this season as they have the second highest margin of victory in the nation (+17.6 per game). Now this won't be the first opponent the Badgers have faced this NCAA Tournament that likes to push the pace of the game, having already played Oregon and North Carolina.
Arizona Wildcats top scorers:
Stanley Johnson 14.0 ppg
Brandon Ashley 12.1 ppg
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 11.1 ppg
T.J. McConnell 10.3 ppg
Kaleb Tarczewski 9.2 ppg
Gabe York 9.1 ppg
Keys to the game:
As anyone who has watched Wisconsin play knows, Bo Ryan runs a unique system of slowing down the game and working to get the best scoring option that is available. Arizona on the other hand likes to get out and run compared to the Badgers, averaging around six more possessions per 40 minutes than Wisconsin's 58.4 possessions per game. The Badgers will be able to slow the pace of the game down on both ends of the court, offensively having guards Bronson Koenig and Traevon Jackson run the Bo Ryan offense and continue to move the ball around and make the defense work. On the defensive end Wisconsin is going to have to box out on the glass and make sure to get back in transition. On Thursday night the Badgers were able to limit North Carolina's fast break points at the end of the game, but they struggled early on in the game allowing the Tar Heels many wide open lay ups in transition.
Arizona ranks 14th in the nation in points allowed per game with only 59 points per game. Wisconsin is going to have to rely on old faithful, which is believing in Bo Ryan's offensive scheme. Although Arizona has some size in the frontcourt, Frank Kaminsky is going to have to find ways to score down low, forcing the Wildcats defenders to collapse inside and lead to open three point attempts for everyone else. Sam Dekker is coming off a career high against North Carolina, so look for the Badgers to try and get his hot hand going early.
After losing last year in the exact same spot as they find themselves on Saturday night, the Wildcats have not forgotten what happened last year after last year's heartbreaking loss. Arizona players have had a full year to think over how bad they want to get revenge and now they have their opportunity. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has the opportunity to make school history and win a National Championship, which has been the goal ever since their loss against Kentucky last season. In a battle of who wants it more, the team that shows up and displays who is hungrier will win this game.