NCAA tournament team previews: Wisconsin Badgers
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team's national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 26-7, 12-6 in Big Ten
Adjusted Offense/Adjusted Defense: 119.1 (5th) / 98.8 (58th)
Key player: Frank Kaminsky, junior forward, 13.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, .524 FG%, .388 3P%
The Case For:
The Badgers were in the mix for a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs before losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. They won eight games against the RPI top 50 and own wins over ACC champion Virginia on the road, Big Ten regular season champion Michigan on the road and are one of just two teams to have beaten SEC champion Florida.
Wisconsin is the No. 11-ranked team on KenPom on the strength of, for the first time in a while under Bo Ryan, a ruthlessly efficient offense. All five of its starters – Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Ben Brust, Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser -- are dangerous from behind the arc. While a lot of the axioms about Ryan's teams aren't true this year, the one that remains is that they won't beat themselves. They had the fewest turnovers in the country this year, and their 12.6-percent turnover rate ranked second.
The Case Against:
Wisconsin is extremely thin on the front line. If Kaminksy or Nigel Hayes get into foul trouble, it can get exposed. If both do, as was the case in the regular season finale against Nebraska, the Badgers can be completely vulnerable on the defensive end. They need at least one of the shooters, specifically Brust, Kaminsky or Gasser, to be connecting from distance. If all go cold on the same night, Wisconsin will have trouble scoring. It is also susceptible to teams with big men who can own the block or guards who can regularly get into the lane and finish at the rim.
SI prediction: Beat American in second round, beat Oregon in third round, lose to Creighton in Sweet 16View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts