For a team that was projected to finish 10th in the Big Ten, grabbing a three-seed and getting the chance to play the first two rounds in Milwaukee is quite the victory for Wisconsin basketball.
As good as their season has gone, the Badgers have lost their last two straight. Their first loss came against unranked Nebraska at home, with their second coming to unranked Michigan State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. With the Badgers’ inconsistency making them tough to read, the question is what we’ll see from them in the NCAA Tournament.
So, how far can Wisconsin basketball go in the NCAA Tournament?
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Wisconsin Badgers Bracketology | NCAA Tournament Preview
Overall Record: 24-7
Conference Record: 15-5
Record vs Ranked Teams: 5-3
Wisconsin KenPom Rankings
|34||110.4 (49)||94.8 (38)||66.5 (208)||+10.05 (19)|
Road to the Final Four | Bracketology
For as bad as the Badgers were to end the season, they were gifted one of the easier roads to the Final Four. In the first round, they play a Colgate team that can shoot the lights out of the building. They have been solid in conference play in the Patriot League and have won 15 straight, but they were just 8-10 on the road. With this game in Milwaukee, it will be the hardest test of the season for Colgate.
In the second round, the Badgers could play either LSU or Iowa State. Iowa State has lacked the ability to beat top teams all season while LSU recently fired their head coach due to recruiting violations. The Badgers could face second-seeded Auburn in the Sweet 16. While they are a solid team, they went just 3-3 over their last six games.
In the Elite Eight, the Badgers could face top-seeded, Kansas who has been solid all season. While they would be the toughest opponent for the Badgers in their region, the Elite Eight game would be played in Chicago, which would likely be another virtual home game for Wisconsin. For as good as Kansas is, their defense is their Achilles heel. The Badgers could slow down the pace and provide a tough challenge for the Jayhawks.
How Far Can Wisconsin Basketball Go in the NCAA Tournament?
How Far Could They Go?
The sky is the limit for the Badgers when All-American Johnny Davis is on his game. He often answers the call in big games and has dropped 25+ points in nine games this season. In those nine games, the Badgers are 8-1. Wisconsin isn’t the deepest team, but they do have veterans who can step up, like guard Brad Davidson and forward Tyler Wahl.
Wisconsin basketball can control the pace and lull opposing defenses to sleep. When Davis is able to create and hit shots, the role players often see open looks. When they’re hitting their open looks, they are a tough team to beat as they give up just over 66 points per game.
How Far Will They Go?
The Badgers are arguably the biggest wild card in this year’s NCAA Tournament. When Johnny Davis is on his game, few can beat Wisconsin. They could very easily find themselves in the Elite Eight, if opposing defenses can’t simply double team Davis for the entire game.
Unfortunately, Johnny Davis is still a little banged up from a hard foul he took in their regular season finale loss to Nebraska. If defenses can force him to take tough shots and make the other guys on the team step up, the Badgers will have a very tough time getting their offense going.
Davis hasn’t scored 20+ points in his last five games. Against Colgate in the first round, they’ll need him on his game, as Colgate is one of the best shooting teams in the tournament. With the first two rounds being virtually home games, the Badgers should be able to make it to the Sweet 16 if they can cool down Colgate’s offense. As well as they would matchup against a team like Auburn, they lack the consistency to string three complete games together.
Expect the Badgers to likely bow out of the tournament before the Elite Eight, with the likely possibility Colgate can pull an upset in the first round.