These two teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Under head Coach Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has always been a fundamental team that plays at their pace and allows for the ball to move inside and out. This is his most athletic and maybe even most talented team he has had. After never really having the outcome in doubt against American University, Oregon, and Baylor. Wisconsin got all it could handle in their matchup with top seeded Arizona. In what was arguably the best game of the tournament no team had a lead of more than 3 points over the final 12:09 of regulation. Throughout that regulation and the eventual overtime the hero was Frank Kaminsky. The big man carried his Badgers with 28 points, 6 of which happened in overtime, and 11 rebounds as his team defeated Arizona 64-63 in a physical battle.
Kentucky began the season as the number 1 ranked team in the country. They then proceeded to lose 3 of their first 11 games and eventually lost 10 games during the season. Coming into the tournament as an 8th seed in what was considered the toughest region by far they faced Kansas State in the first round and escaped with a 56—49 victory. They then used that game as a wake up call and defeated top seeded Wichita State, defending champion and in state rival Louisville, and the team all ESPN experts picked to win the tournament on selection Sunday in Michigan State. A starting unit that consists of all freshman paces them and they like to play at a fast tempo. Clearly they have survived their growing pains and are playing their best basketball at the right time.
Kentucky- Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young
Wisconsin- Traveon Jackson, Ben Brust, Josh Gasser
Wisconsin guards had only 5 turnovers in their Elite 8 matchup so they value possession of the ball. While they have all been proven shot makers over the course of the season they all struggled in their last game. They will need better production to advance past the Wildcats as they shot a combined 7-26. Kentucky relies heavily on its guards and they were solid in the Elite 8. Aaron Harrison hit 4 three pointers in the regional final including the game winning shot. They also only turned the ball over 5 times, which was a key to their victory. Wisconsin specializes in stopping dribble penetration while Kentucky relies on getting into the paint. Whichever team wins that battle will likely be the winner
Kentucky- Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson
Wisconsin- Sam Dekker, Kaminsky
Kaminsky is a matchup nightmare with his ability to score on the inside as well as be a threat from the three-point line. He is also a rugged interior defender and strong rebounder. Randle is the best low post player in the tournament. He has had a double double in all of his tournament games and can score in a variety of ways.
The bottom line is the game will come down to who can impose their will on the other. If Wisconsin stops dribble penetration early it could frustrate the young Wildcats. If Kentucky can get into the lane Wisconsin will not be able to rotate quick enough to cover their athleticism. Should be a fantastic game!
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