South Region: Oregon vs Wisconsin Prediction
Oregon vs Wisconsin Preview
In a surprising 5 versus 12 matchup that pits two Power Five schools against each other–the red hot Oregon Ducks (23-12) are looking to stay that way against the Wisconsin Badgers (23-10) who have had an unspectacular, but solid season. Wisconsin is a talented, disciplined and well-coached team.
“Great teams are made in March, and made in the NCAA tournament, so we still have that in front of us,” UW sophomore guard Brad Davison said. “We can look back at our Big Ten season and our conference and non-conference, but we can’t change it now. So I think we’ve got to focus on becoming great in the NCAA tournament, and make a run at this thing.”
UW went 7-8 against teams in the NCAA field, and the breakdown of that record offers evidence of its struggle to make the jump from good to great this season.
The Badgers went 5-1 against teams seeded in the bottom half of the 68-team field. They went just 2-7 against teams seeded 1 through 6.
If the Badgers are going to have a successful NCAA Tournament run they will need one man to carry the load. Of course, we are talking about senior big man Ethan Happ. The 6’10 forward has seemingly been at Wisconsin for 45 years, but in actuality it’s only been four–he is a walking double-double, leading the team in scoring (17.1 points) and rebounds (10.1). If he plays well, the Badgers chances of victory greatly improves.
The Ducks have won eight consecutive games and avoided missing the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season by winning four games in as many days at the Pac-12 tournament over the weekend.
That run to book an automatic berth included an overtime win over Arizona State on Friday and a 68-48 victory over top-seeded Washington in the final the following day.
On Feb. 23, Oregon was sitting at 15-12 overall and 6-8 in the conference after a three-game losing streak, which included a loss to in-state rival Oregon State at Gill Coliseum. The Ducks were swept by the Beavers this season.
Oregon went to the Big Dance in five consecutive seasons from 2013-17 under coach Dana Altman, highlighted by a trip to the Final Four in 2017.
The Ducks have one starter remaining from that Final Four team two years ago — junior guard Payton Pritchard.
“Everybody doubted us. People gave up on us,” Pritchard said Saturday in a post game ESPN interview. “The haters kept hating, and they can’t hate no more.”
The Ducks’ roster took a big hit in mid-December when freshman sensation Bol Bol sustained a foot injury. Bol, who averaged 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in nine games, announced in January that his Oregon career was over and he’d be entering the 2019 NBA draft.
Even without the 7-foot-2 Bol, the Ducks are big. They start four players who are listed at 6-9, including freshman forward and leading scorer Louis King (13.1 ppg).
Sophomore Kenny Wooten averages 2.0 blocks per game as the rim protector on a team ranked No. 18 nationally in the KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency ratings.
LINE: -1.5 Wisconsin
Dan’s Bet: Over 116.5
Bracket Pick: Wisconsin
Score Prediction: Wisconsin 66 Oregon 63
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