during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 18, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.

Badgers Basketball Preview: Xavier in 2nd round of NCAA tourney edition

The Basics:

🏀 Wisconsin Badgers vs. Xavier Musketeers
📺 TNT, 7:40p.m. CT
📻 1310 AM in Madison

All-Time Series: Series tied 2-2
Last Meeting: XU won, 60-49 (3/22/09) in NCAA Tournament Second Round, Boise, Idaho

Starting Lineups:

Xavier Musketeers

G Myles Davis — Jr., 6-2, 188 (10.9 ppg,3.7 rpg, 4.2 apg)
G Remy Abell — Sr., 6-4, 197 (6.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.5 apg)
G Edmond Sumner — Fr., 6-6, 183 (11.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.6 apg)
G Trevon Bluiet — So. 6-6, 208 (15.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.2 apg)
F Jalen Reynolds — Jr., 6-10, 238 (9.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.7 apg)

Wisconsin Badgers

G Bronson Koenig — Jr. 6-4, 193 (13.1 pgg, 2.6 rpg, 2.5 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Jr. 6-2, 180 (7.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.2 apg)
F Vitto Brown — Jr. 6-8, 230 (9.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.8 apg)
F Nigel Hayes — Jr. 6-8, 240 (16.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 apg)
F Ethan Happ — Fr. 6-9, 235 (12.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.3 apg)

Biggest Matchup: Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig vs. the rim

It’s a miracle the Wisconsin Badgers aren’t on a three-game losing streak and having a very sour feeling about the end of their season. That’s especially true for two of the biggest stars — Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig.

To say the two have been struggling offensively would be a major understatement. Hayes is 5-32 shooting in his last two games, including 0-12 from three-point range. Koenig is just 6-32 from the field in the last three contests.

At some point those two have to start getting going from the field, as Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown can’t be the only sources of offense. It’s just too easy for opposing defenses to drop down on Happ inside and to dare UW to beat them with the poorest shooting options left open. Once Hayes and/or Koenig get hot things get real interesting for opposing defenses.

3 Numbers to Know:

— 9-1: Over the past six seasons the Wisconsin Badgers are 9-1 on the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament. UW’s lone loss on the opening weekend came in 2010, losing to 12-seed Cornell in the round of 32.

— 5: Wisconsin has trailed in 5 of its last 11 NCAA tournament games. Ironically, the Badgers have come back to win all 5 of those games.

— 9-2: Xavier is 9-2 against Big Ten teams since 2006-07 and holds a 3-1 record against the Big Ten in the NCAA tournament during that same timespan.

Prediction: Xavier 68, Wisconsin 61

The good news is that it couldn’t get much worse than the first round game against Pitt, the bad news is Xavier is a much better defensive team and Wisconsin seems to be in a prolonged slump. While the Badgers’ defensive effort was amazing against Pitt, that effort alone can’t win them multiple games.

Unless this team finally comes out hot to start the game or end the first half, I fear the hole may finally be too deep to dig out of. Xavier provides a unique challenge in the size of its lineup and ability to slash to the hoop. With six, count them six player averaging double figures, this has to be a game UW matches the offensive output of its opponent and thensome.

What we’ve seen from UW’s big stars on offense as of late gives little confidence that is going to be possible. Look for the Badgers to start slow, get hot to start the second half, but just have dug too deep a hole.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com