In the first day of the NCAA Tournament the Big Ten went 5-0. On the second day the conference will look to continue their unbeaten streak as three teams will play on the second day of the tournament.
#5 Wisconsin Badgers vs #12 Oregon Ducks
- Time/TV: 4:30 PM ET / TBS
- Spread: Wisconsin -1.5
Wisconsin and Oregon provide an interesting matchup this afternoon. While the 12-5 upset has historically been pretty popular, less 12 seeds have been knocking off 5 seeds as of late. Of course a lot of 12 seeds in the past have included some pretty good mid-majors, with Oregon ducking that trend by earning their way into the 12 seed by winning their power conference tournament.
Towards the end of February the Ducks were sitting at 15-12 with no one expecting them to get into the tournament. They closed the regular season with four wins, including a road win at Washington, and then won four more games to win their conference tourney. That four game streak included an overtime win over Arizona State and a 20 point throttling of Washington. Or in other words, Oregon is playing very good basketball over the last month.
It would have been interesting to see how good Oregon could have been this year with a healthy Bol Bol, as the center averaged 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game in nine games before suffering a season ending injury. To help pick up the slack Oregon has relied on Louis King, Payton Pritchard and Paul White, all three of which have averaged at least 10.6 points per game. Oregon doesn’t have a super exciting offense, finishing 240th in scoring, but they do have a top 20 defense and lock down defensively on the perimeter, holding opponents to 29.4% from three (11th in the nation).
That three point tidbit will be interesting because while Wisconsin is 213th in two point shooting percentage, the team is 68th in three point percentage. Wisconsin also doesn’t score very many points (273rd), but they tend to run a slower offense and also bring a lockdown defense to the table.
Wisconsin definitely needs a reset after the Big Ten Tournament, with the team looking out of sorts the last time they took the court against Michigan State. The Badgers were held to 35.3% from the field and 10.5% from three. Even worse is Brad Davison, who went 4 of 19 in two games during the Big Ten Tournament. Wisconsin occasionally struggles on offense when they only focus on either Happ inside or chucking up three pointers. Of course Ethan Happ is one of the best players in the conference, but if the Ducks can slow down the forward than Wisconsin will have to rely on their ability to hit from three.
Also of note, the Badgers finished the year 331st in free throw shooting and their best player (Happ) is a liability at the end of games due to his inability to shoot free throws. So if today’s game comes down to the wire, that could prove to be a huge issue for Wisconsin. If the Badgers want to pick up the win today they’ll need to get Happ going early, convert from three and play stifling defense.
The reality is sometimes Wisconsin has done that and when they do they can compete with anyone. When they don’t then it’s going to be a long day for Wisconsin fans. While Oregon is riding a huge tidal wave of momentum, I feel like the Badgers will piece things together today and find a way to slow down the Ducks.
- Pick Against the Spread: Wisconsin