No. 1 seed Wisconsin’s (32-3; 16-2) terrific defense might get tested against No. 8-seeded Oregon (26-9;13-5) in a third-round, West region NCAA tournament game Sunday at CenturyLink Center in Omaha. The Badgers 9th ranked defense will have to contain a Ducks offense led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Joseph Young.
The matchup will be a rematch of last year’s third-round NCAA tournament game between the two squads, a game which Wisconsin won 85-77 after Oregon wasted a double-digit second half lead. The Ducks will hope to best the Badgers—winners of seven straight—to advance to the Sweet 16 this time around. The winner of the game will go on to play North Carolina and have a shot at the Elite Eight.
Oregon will likely rely on Young, who scored 27 points in Oregon’s 79-73 second-round win over Oklahoma State. The senior guard averages 20.4 points for the 26th ranked offense (75.6 ppg) in the NCAA. It will be a tough task for the Ducks to score on a Wisconsin team that allows, on average, just 56.6 points. The Badgers breezed to the third round, dispatching 16-seed Coastal Carolina 86-72. Big 10 Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky notched a double-double against the Chanticleers, scoring 27 and grabbing 12 rebounds.
“Our guys managed to make sure they remembered that Frank Kaminsky was on the team and helped get us here, so he ended up having a pretty good game,” Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan said in a press conference. “And a lot of our offense went through the post, which is what we like.”
Senior Kaminsky, who averages 18.2 points and eight rebounds, is the centerpiece for the Badgers and will likely be the Wisconsin’s best answer to the prolific scoring of Young. Working the ball around from the inside out, Wisconsin made 11-of-27 three-pointers in its second-round game and shot a stellar 54.1 percent from the field.
Oregon, who shot 54.7 percent from the field in the second round, beat Oklahoma State by using Young as a creator from the perimeter. The Ducks know it will take a lot to beat Wisconsin, which has really hit a groove offensively to couple with its typically stingy defense in a run to a Big Ten title.
“Their efficiency on the offensive end creates big challenge for us defensively,” Oregon Coach Dana Altman said in a press conference. “So we’ve got our work cut out for us, but our guys are excited about the challenge and the opportunity.”
Wisconsin’s formidable frontcourt is tough to stop, featuring Kaminsky and junior forward Sam Dekker (13.2 ppg. 5.4 rpg). Oregon will likely rely on the solid post play of junior forward Elgin Cook (13.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) to counter the production of the Badgers.
The Ducks will surely try to forget last year’s result, while Wisconsin will look to repeat history—but 2015’s matchup features new players and is a completely new opportunity for both squads.
“We’re a different team,” Altman said in a press conference. “Last year we had our opportunity.”
Start Time: 7:45 p.m. ET (as the second Omaha game it will be 30 minutes after the conclusion of Kansas - Wichita State)
TV Channel: Tru TV
Live Stream: Watch Online at March Madness Live
Odds: Wisconsin is a heavy 11.5 point favorite, according to bovada.lv.
Prediction: Oregon’s offense will be tough to stop, but Kaminsky and Wisconsin are on a roll. The Ducks won’t be able to keep up.
Wisconsin over Oregon, 80-71