The Matchup: No. Wisconsin (1) vs. No. 5 Arizona (2)
When: Saturday, March 28; 5:09pm CT
Where: Staples Center (19,079) – Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: Badgers Sports Network
Last Meeting: UW won, 64-63 ot (3/29/14) in 2014 NCAA West Regional Fina
All-Time Series: UW leads 4-2
G T.J. McConnell - Sr. (10.3 ppg, 6.3 apg)
G Stanley Johnson - Fr. (14.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - So. (11.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
F Brandon Ashley - Jr. (12.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
C Kaleb Tarczewski (9.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
G Bronson Koenig - So. (8.6 ppg, 2.5 apg)
G Josh Gasser - Sr. (6.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
F Sam Dekker - Jr. (13.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
F Nigel Hayes - So. (12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
C Frank Kaminsky - Sr. (18.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg)
Biggest Matchup: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson vs. Sam Dekker
Last season these two were bit players in one of the best matchups in the 2014 NCAA tournament. Dekker had just seven points on just 2 of 5 shooting, while Hollis-Jefferson came off the bench to score 10 points in 31 minutes of action.
That won’t be the case in this matchup, as both are much more important to the run each team has made. Dekker is averaging 20 points per game in the NCAA tournament and is shooting 57.1 percent from the field as well. Hollis-Jefferson is averaging 13 points per game, with a high of 23 in the opening round game against Texas Southern.
Both players have similar games and whichever one can get to the hoop on the other more often could have a massive input on the outcome of this game. Look for Dekker to continue his hot streak if the Badgers are going to win this matchup in 2015.
3 Numbers to Know:
- 5: This is Wisconsin’s fifth-ever appearance in the Elite Eight, and Wisconsin is 3-1 in the previous four appearances. UW’s wins came in 1941, 2000 and 2014.
- .889: Wisconsin is red-hot against NCAA tournament opponents this season. The Badgers are 16-2 against the 18 teams they’ve played that have made the tournament, with the only losses coming Duke and Maryland.
- 77.5: That’s the percentage of defensive rebounds Arizona is grabbing on the season, putting them tops in the country on the defensive glass. Wisconsin can’t afford to be inefficient from the field if they are to win this contest.
Prediction: Arizona 72, Wisconsin 68
When will the Badgers good fortune run out? It’s possible that it happens in this contest, as the Badgers have yet to put a full and complete game together in the 2015 NCAA tournament. However, they’ve been lucky to get contributions that weren’t expected all along the way.
There’s little doubt the Badgers will not survive against Arizona if they allow them to shoot and play like UNC did on Thursday night. UW also needs Frank Kaminsky to show up for more than a half of basketball, otherwise they’ll be in trouble. He hasn’t done it yet in this tournament despite the gaudy stats, and we all know stats can lie.
Look for this game to come down to the end and Wisconsin’s inability to create off the dribble from the guards. Eventually that catches up with them and Arizona stops the dream matchup of Wisconsin vs. Kentucky in the Final Four.