The stage is set for what might go down as the most watched college basketball game in television history on Saturday night. A rematch of last year's down to the wire thriller between the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats and a team that everyone believed all season had the best chance to upset them, the Wisconsin Badgers.
#1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. #1 Wisconsin Badgers 8:49ET on CBS
By now every sports talk show has broken down this game just about as much as you can, all that is left to do is actually play the game. Now we all have our theories on how each team wins this game and I am going to lay mine out for you in the simplest way possible.
Tale of the Tape:
Kentucky Wildcats PPG
Aaron Harrison 11.0
Devin Booker 10.1
Karl-Anthony Towns 10.1
Andrew Harrison 9.2
Willie Cauley-Stein 9.1
Wisconsin Badgers PPG
Frank Kaminsky 18.7
Sam Dekker 13.9
Nigel Hayes 12.4
Traevon Jackson 8.6
Bronson Koenig 8.6
The winning team from this game will be the team that plays their style of game the best.
Before everyone starts going crazy and thinking well duh, that logic is common sense, hear me out first. Both of these teams have exceptional coaches and players, and both teams have won this many games so far throughout the season because they are able to force teams to play their style of basketball. Wisconsin likes to play the fundamental style of ball that Bo Ryan has engraved in their minds. No fouling, no turnovers, and no bad shots. Kentucky, on the other hand, likes to play fast pace, pressure defense, block anything that comes near the rim and score as many points inside the paint as possible.
So if playing your own style wins, how do you get your opponent to play your style?
This is where it becomes tricky for both teams, we know the Badgers aren't going to crack and become flustered from a little full court pressure, but what happens when Kentucky is able to make a couple stops on the defensive end and they go on a 9-0 run. Will the Badgers have what it takes to regroup and find ways to score is definitely one of the biggest questions going forward.
Keys to the Game:
Wisconsin is fully capable of beating Kentucky and ending their run at a perfect season. First off Wisconsin, as always, must play the best Wisconsin style of basketball as possible. This includes not allowing the Wildcats pressure force them into turning the ball over or forcing them into bad, last second shots. The Badgers are going to have to stay out of foul trouble, allowing the nations lowest fouls per game at just 12.1 per game. With Kentucky's offense scoring a lot of points in the paint, they tend to draw a considerably higher amount of fouls down low. The Badgers don't have the depth to play against Kentucky if they start getting in foul trouble.
Kentucky loves to crash the boards and get as many second look opportunities as they can and with their height, they are very well at doing exactly that. Notre Dame was able to hold the Wildcats to just 10 offensive rebounds in their Elite Eight match up, which is something Wisconsin will have to replicate if they want to pull the upset.
On the other end of the court Kentucky has been known for their highlight blocks leading to fast break dunks. Wisconsin is going to have to make sure to retreat back in transition and not allow Kentucky to get easy dunks, which tends to lead to them gaining momentum. One way for the Badgers to counter against Kentucky running out in transition is by cleaning up on the offensive glass. The Wildcats are prone to giving up second chance opportunities because they are so eager to block every shot attempt. Notre Dame was able to find ways to get many easy baskets at the rim by crashing the boards on the offensive end.
It's now or never time for the Wisconsin Badgers, With graduating seniors and Sam Dekker possibly opting out and heading to the pros, this is the best shot Bo Ryan has ever had to win a title. The final key to the game will be at the end of the game, If you add up Kentucky's points in the paint, points off turnovers, fast break points, and second chance points and that total is above 55 Kentucky most likely will come out ahead. If that total is 55 or under and Wisconsin's total is within 5 points in those same categories, the Badgers will come out on top.