2012 NCAA Tournament
Third Round – East Region
Saturday, 3/17/12, 6:10 p.m. Eastern, TV: TNT
#4 Wisconsin Badgers (25-9) vs. #5 Vanderbilt Commodores (25-10)
University Arena – Albuquerque, NM
Opening Line: Vanderbilt -1
Current Line: Vanderbilt Pick’em
Opening Total: 120
Current Total: 120.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
The fourth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers and fifth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores both turned in solid efforts on Thursday in the second round of the East Region, and now they will be fighting each other on Saturday for the right to move on to the Sweet 16. The Badgers (25-9) are back in familiar territory, making it to the Round of 32 for the sixth year in a row, while the Commodores (25-10) have not been this far in the NCAA tournament since 2007.
Vanderbilt (Pick’em, O/U 120.5) has been bounced from its opening game of the Big Dance each of the previous two years but got past No. 12 Harvard this time around in a 79-70 victory. The Commodores won their fourth consecutive game both straight-up and against the spread following a 71-64 upset of top-ranked Kentucky in the SEC tournament title game last Sunday. John Jenkins scored a game-high 27 points and connected on 10 of 13 free throws against the Crimson, who were forced to foul down the stretch.
Wisconsin had an easy time with No. 13 Montana, ending the school’s 14-game winning streak in a 73-49 rout. The Badgers got a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds from Ryan Evans while Jordan Taylor added 17 points, eight boards and six assists. They shot nearly 48 percent from the field, including 10 of 19 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc, and outrebounded the Grizzlies by a 32-19 margin.
Taylor’s play against Jenkins could be one of the deciding factors in the game. The senior from Wisconsin is one of the best point guards in the country and just held Montana’s Will Cherry to nine points on 3 of 14 shooting. Jenkins, a junior, has stepped up for Vandy in the team’s biggest games and scored at least 11 points in all 35 so far this season.
Each team plays sound defense, although the Badgers have seen the OVER cash in eight of their last 10 games. They have held opponents to an average of less than 53 points per game, but that number has increased by five points over their past five. The UNDER is 4-1 in the last five for the Commodores, who have gone 6-1 against the spread in their past seven. They have played even better defense lately, limiting the opposition to 59 points per game over their last five, which is nearly six points less than what they have given up overall this year.