A shot at the Final Four will be on the line as No. 1 Arizona takes on No. 2 Wisconsin the West Region final on Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif.
During an especially wild tournament rife with upsets, the West Region final is the only one pitting the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds against each other.
The two schools have split their two previous tournament meetings, with the Wildcats coming out on top the last time in the first round in 2006. Arizona has been to the Final Four four times in school history, but hasn’t appeared since 2001. Wisconsin last went in 2000.
Powered by junior guard Nick Johnson and super freshman forward Aaron Gordon, Arizona made its second Elite Eight in three years by squeaking past No. 4 seed San Diego State in the previous round. Johnson made up for his 2-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds and notched a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, while Gordon recorded 15 points and six rebounds with two blocks.
Freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also came off the bench for 15 points and six boards, and Arizona has won five of its last six games.
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Wisconsin makes their first Elite Eight appearance since 2005 and the second under head coach Bo Ryan, who’s taken the Badgers to the tournament every year since he took over in 2001.
The Badgers seemed to have turned a major corner after a bad stretch to start Big Ten play back in January. Wisconsin had lost five of six games, but since Feb. 1’s one-point loss to Ohio State, the team has gone 12-2, with a near 12-point margin of victory.
Seven-foot junior forward Frank Kaminsky has led the Badgers in scoring all season, and posted a game-high 19 points and six blocks in the dominating win over Baylor in the Sweet 16. Guard Ben Brust also came up big once again with 14 points and six rebounds, followed up Traevon Jackson’s seven points, seven rebounds and five assists.
The Wildcats may need a big defensive performance from sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski in order to contain Kaminsky. Tarczewski has blocked seven total shots in three tournament games, but has just 10 total rebounds.
Time: Saturday, 8:49 p.m. EST
TV Channel: TBS
Odds: Arizona -3
Over/Under: 130 points
Online Stream Info: A live online stream can be viewed at NCAA March Madness Live here.
Prediction: Wisconsin 68, Arizona 64