The Wisconsin Badgers, one of the surprise teams during the Big Ten tournament, meet another upstart in the Ole Miss Rebels Friday afternoon in the second round of the West Region at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
After finishing in a tie for fourth in the Big Ten, Wisconsin upset both Michigan and Indiana in the conference tournament, and nearly toppled Ohio State in the championship.
That earned the Badgers a date with Ole Miss, which boasts one of the best one-two offensive punches in the nation.
Wisconsin, 23-11, has ground down its opponents all season, boasting the best scoring and three-point defense in the Big Ten.
With their defense intact, the Badgers struggled to shoot the ball, especially from deep, in their 50-43 loss to the Buckeyes. Sophomore guard Treavon Jackson led his team with 10 points and three rebounds, and freshman Sam Dekker came off the bench for eight points and three rebounds, minus four turnovers. Team leading scorer Ben Brust scored six points with three rebounds.
Wisconsin converted just three of 18 shots from three-point range, but limited Ohio State to 1-for-16 shooting from beyond the arc.
That impressive defense will be put to the test against No. 12 seed Ole Miss’s tandem of Murphy Holloway and Marshall Henderson.
Holloway netted 23 points and Henderson had 21 in the Rebels 66-63 upset over Florida, erasing a 12-point halftime deficit for their seventh tournament appearance.
The senior forward Holloway led 26-8 Ole Miss and the SEC in rebounding at 9.6 per game, and Henderson also led the conference in scoring with 20.1 points per game.
Wisconsin has advanced to the Sweet 16 for two straight years, but hasn’t gone any further since 2005. The Rebels are 3-6 in the tournament, and this is their first appearance since 2002.
The game tips-off at 12:40 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast by TruTV, or watch a free live online stream at the NCAA March Madness official site here.
Betting Odds: Wisconsin is favored by 6.5 points.
Over/Under: 128 points
Prediction: Should the Badgers take an early lead, they will slow the game down and keep Holloway and Henderson out of the paint. Ole Miss will have to knock down its threes, and keep Wisconsin away from the offensive glass. Look for the Rebels to pull off the day's first upset.
Predicted Score: Ole Miss 62, Wisconsin 59