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Mississippi likes getting up and down the court while Wisconsin likes to slow things down and use up the shot clock. The Badgers come out of the Big Ten as -6 point favorites for good reason. While their games may not be the most exciting, they get the job done. How else do you beat teams like Michigan and Indiana on back-to-back days by large margins? This is not a team you want to mess with.
But that's exactly what Ole Miss is going to do with Marshall Henderson. The kid is afraid of no one and is the one chance the Rebels have in this game. If he can continue his current run of five straight games with 20-plus points, they will have a shot. But, if he can't deal with the physicality of Wisconsin and shoots 4-for-17 from the field like he did at South Carolina a month ago, then they will probably lose.
The problem with that theory is that even if Henderson reaches 20, a loss is still very possible for the Rebels. The Badgers are coming off a solid Big Ten tourney performance and haven't lost in the NCAA opening-round since 2006 when they were a nine seed. Prior to the conference tourney, things weren't looking great after two big losses to Purdue and Michigan State and then a last-second shot saved them against Penn State. Maybe they were just looking toward the postseason.
No matter, this is a squad that pumped up their offensive game over the last few games (excluding when they scored 43 points against Ohio State). Ben Brust and Sam Dekker pushed the ball up the floor a little more which usually isn't in Wisconsin's strategy. Everyone knows they boast one of the best and most consistent defenses in the nation which will cause Ole Miss problems in the shooting department. But will that offense that scored 68 points against both Michigan and Indiana show up, as well?
Brust has turned into the operator of this offense in his junior season. He's the one making plays and hitting shots. Seniors Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren are also very important, but without Brust, this offense would be lacking. Evans is a player that can be close to unstoppable when he's on his game. He can hit long jumpers, but also do work down low. This season has been pretty abysmal for him as he's shooting under 40 percent from the field, but his game looked close to normal in the conference tourney.
Wisconsin is a team to watch out for and it's a question whether Ole Miss will be ready. Henderson was seen celebrating the SEC tourney title like they just won the NCAA Championship. Their goal was to get in the tournament and they did just that, but will they continue to prove the doubters wrong? No longer with the same mindset, it will be interesting to see how this team plays against one of the best defenses they've seen all year.
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