Pick with Analysis
The one team a lot of people think can give Kentucky some trouble is Wisconsin. The Badgers get their Tournament started in the last set of second-round action against Coastal Carolina, the Big South Champion.
If the Badgers put it together in a Game, they can beat most teams in the country by double-digits, especially on a neutral cOurt. That was evident throughout the season and in the Big Ten Tourney. Before taking down MSU in overtime (by 11 points), Wisconsin won Four straight Games by double-digits, and none of them were exactly easy situations. They won at Ohio State 72-48 and beat Tourney team Purdue by 20 after being down at halftime. In non-Conference play against smaller Tournament schools, they pretty much ran the table, beating teams like Boise State by 24, UAB by 29, Buffalo by 12 and even Oklahoma by 13 on a neutral cOurt.
The Chanticleers aren’t a walkover, but they haven’t seen this kind of talent or size all season. Sure, they only lost to Ole Miss by three points and actually beat Auburn, but Wisconsin is a different level than those teams. And don’t forget, this team gave Virginia a run for its money in the same round last year, actually leading UVA by five points at half time.
But again, this Wisconsin team is probably better than that Virginia team. Their entire team can shoot, and for a group that has plenty of size, that’s hard to defend for anyone. Coastal Carolina has some size and is a solid rebounding team, but having to defend Frank Kaminsky is something they haven’t seen all year.
Kaminsky is up for player of the year and is going to be a handful. He’s big, can shoot the three, and can also take most of the country in the post. If extra attention is given to him on the block, he has the whereabouts to get it to any of Wisconsin’s shooters on the outside. Whether that’s Bronson Koenig (who was great in the NCAA Tournament), fellow big man Nigel Hayes or even Duje Dukan off the bench, the options are endless. That doesn’t even include Traevon Jackson, who has missed half the season with a broken foot. Jackson, the former starting point guard, went through light workouts at the beginning of the week and could see some action soon.
against Virginia last year, Coastal Carolina was surprisingly efficient against one of the better defensive teams in the country. They shot the ball well and played solid defense. against Wisconsin, their offense may have to play a bigger part. The Chanticleers are led by senior guards, one of which is from the state of Wisconsin (Josh Cameron). Warren Gillis is still their best player, even though he has struggled with his shot more this year. For them to cover this Game, Gillis will need to be a factor and they’ll need to hit their shots.
Coastal Carolina went 9-of-19 from long range in last year’s Tournament and need to do similar work against Wisconsin. Gillis, Cameron and Wilson can all shoot, but none of them are above 38% on the year.
The Chanticleers have shown they can fight with big Conference teams before, but Wisconsin is the top of the class on both ends of the cOurt and play smart basketball. Covering isn’t out of the question for them, but that’s only because the spread of 20 points is a large one.
Our model however, likes Wisconsin to win this by 40+ points.