FINAL FOUR SEASON IN REVIEW: WISCONSIN BADGERS
RECORD: 35-3 (16-2 in conference)
COACH: Bo Ryan
2014 – 2015 SEASON: Wisconsin Badgers returned most of their roster from their impressive Final Four run in 2013-2014. They started off their campaign by beating up on cream puffs like Northern Kentucky and Chattanooga before heading into their first true challenge versus Duke in the ACC/Big-Ten Challenge. The 4th ranked Blue Devils shot over 65% from the floor and were able to use a multitude of scoring options to defeat the #2 ranked Badgers at the Kohl Center. The Badgers were able to rebound quickly and tear through the Big Ten Conference while only suffering two losses; A 5 point loss to a miserable Rutgers team and a tough defensive battle against the #15 ranked Maryland squad. The Badgers followed up their regular season championship with a Big Ten Conference Tournament championship, beating Sparty in the final game 80-69 in overtime.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: Wisconsin mowed through their first round opponent Costal Carolina and was able to pull away late with a comfortable win against Oregon in the 2nd round. The third round match-up with North Carolina was a back and forth affair with North Carolina looking to pull away early before the Badgers clawed their way back behind a breakout performance from Sam Dekker. In a rematch of last years Elite Eight match-up the Badgers faced a very good defensive Arizona team. This was a tale of two halves as Wisconsin again got off to a slow start and trailed by 3 at the half. The 2nd half saw Sam Dekker hit big shot after big shot and put up a career high in points for the 2nd game in a row. Frank Kaminsky added 29 points and 6 rebounds in the 85-78 victory.
Sam Dekker has made the transition to star player in this tournament. His athleticism and defensive prowess is well known, but he has seen his 3 pt shooting and scoring vastly improve this tournament. Dekker, a career ~35% 3 pt shooter, has shot ~48% in the NCAA tournament including a few clutch 2nd half shots to seal the past two victories. Sam Dekker was a highly touted high school recruit that hasn’t received a lot of NBA hype because of the defense first Bo Ryan system, but he is showing that he is a Star and can take over a game by himself.
OUTLOOK: In a rematch of last years final four matchup the Badgers will be taking on the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. This will be a matchup of two of the tallest teams in the country. It will pit the most efficient offense in the country in Wisconsin versus the best defensive team in the country in Kentucky. Wisconsin will have to make sure they do not get off to a slow start as they have previously in this tournament. The Badgers will also need to make a committed effort on the defensive boards and not allow the Wildcats any second chance opportunities. The Badgers will look to rely on their experience and if they can continue to use the 3 pt shot to their advantage they will be able to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament while getting some long awaited revenge.