Baylor might be the hottest team in the Tournament outside of any of the No. 1 seeds. The Bears dominated their first two Games and one of those includeda beat down of Creighton, one of the most efficient offenses in the nation. Will Wisconsin, who squeaked out a win against Oregon, put up a fight against the Bears? The early lines suggest so with the Badgers being -3.5 point favorites.
Not to discredit Wisconsin, they’ve done what was needed and made it to the Sweet 16. They started slow against American but ended up beating them by 40 points and kept close with Oregon throughout, but ended up pulling away at the end.
Many thought Baylor was a sleeper pick heading into the Tournament and that has rung true. The Bears won 10 of their last 12 Games before March Madness with those losses being at Texas and to Iowa State in the Big 12 championship Game. They rolled through Nebraska in the first round and dismantled Doug McDermott’s Creighton in the round of 32. If the Bears continue to hit their shots from outside, it’s going to be tough to stop them.
Baylor was 11-of-18 from outside the arc in that last win with all of them coming from Brady Heslip, Kenny Cherry and Royce O’Neale. All five of their starters reached double digits in that Game, which just shows what they bring to the table. The first problem for Wisconsin will be dealing with Baylor’s Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson down low. The Badgers don’t play as big using Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker at the 4 and 5 spots.
Kaminsky will likely guard Austin due to their similar heights leaving Dekker to Jefferson, which could be a problem. Jefferson should be able to body up Dekker down low, but on the other end Jefferson will have to play out on the edges, although it’s likely Baylor will use the same zone they dominated Creighton with.
This will undoubtedly be Baylor’s toughest matchup yet, even though Nebraska beat this Wisconsin team only a couple weeks ago. The Badgers have a more complete roster and present problems all around with six guys that can hit from long range. Kaminsky is the main problem, although his duality may not be a huge issue for Baylor as Austin and Jeffereson can limit Kaminsky in the paint. Freshman Nigel Hayes may end up seeing more minutes for Wisconsin as he can help on the Baylor bigs. Don’t forget the Bears also have Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince coming off the bench.
Baylor has not had a good three-point defense all season, but it didn’t seem like it in that Creighton Game. If they can hold the Badgers to a poor percentage from deep, there’s no question the Bears will have the edge in this one. Wisconsin needs to hit their shots to have a shot in this Game and that’s not always a given, even with so many shooters. Josh Gasser and Ben Brust live and die by the three, while Traeveon Jackson is more of the facilitator.
The matchups for Wisconsin will be tough, but it’s nothing they haven’t dealt with this year playing in the Big Ten. This is going to be a fun Game to watch and hopefully much closer than Baylor’s previous two Games.