2014 NCAA Tournament
West Regional Final
Honda Center – Anaheim, California
#2 Wisconsin Badgers vs #1 Arizona Wildcats
Saturday, March 29, 2014, 8:49 PM Eastern, TV: TBS
Opening Line: Arizona -3
Current Total: Arizona -3
Opening Total: 130
Current Total: 130 1/2
Opening Money Line: Arizona -150 / Wisconsin +130
Current Money Line: Arizona -160 / Wisconsin +135
The 33-4 Arizona Wildcats and 29-7 Wisconsin Badgers meet Saturday in the West Regional Final in Anaheim. The winner between the #1 seeded Wildcats and #2 seeded Badgers will advance to the Final Four in Arlington, Texas next week to face the Midwest champion (either #8 Kentucky or #2 Michigan). Wisconsin has not been to the Final Four since 2000, and Arizona hasn’t been since 2001.
Wisconsin tied with Michigan State at 12-6 for second in the Big Ten behind Michigan. The Badgers lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten semifinals. Wisconsin crushed #15 seed American 75-35 in the second round Thursday, and came back from a 12 point halftime deficit against #7 seed Oregon to win 85-77. Wisconsin played both NCAA tournament games in nearby Milwaukee. The Badgers advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2008, and Wisconsin beat #6 seed Baylor 69-52 in Thursday’s semifinals.
Arizona won the Pac 12 regular season title with a 15-3 record. The Wildcats were upset by UCLA 75-71 in the Pac 12 Championship game, but the Wildcats were locked into a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament whether they won or lost that game. Arizona beat #16 Weber State 68-59 in the second round and beat #8 seed Gonzaga 84-61 in the third round in San Diego. In the semifinals, the Wildcats trailed #4 seed San Diego State by 8 points in the second half. However, Arizona would rally for the 70-64 win. Pac 12 player of the year Nick Johnson scored all 15 of his points in the last 2:45 the game, including making 10 of 10 free throws to ice the game.
Wisconsin leads the series 3-2 against Arizona. The series is tied 1-1 in the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin beat Arizona in the second round in 2000, and Arizona returned the favor in the 2006 first round. The Badgers won the last meeting 65-61 in the 2009 Maui Invitational.
Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan. The Badgers have losses at Indiana, Michigan, at Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State at Nebraska, and Michigan State. Wisconsin has key wins over St. John’s in Sioux Falls, SD, Florida, at Green Bay, Bowling Green, Oral Roberts, Saint Louis and West Virginia both in a tournament in Cancun, at Virginia, Marquette, Milwaukee, at Northwestern, Iowa twice, Illinois twice, Purdue twice. Michigan State, Minnesota twice, at Michigan, Indiana and at Penn State. The Badgers are 20-16 ATS and the total is 19-16 this season.
Wisconsin is outscoring teams 74-64. The Badgers are #41 in points allowed nationally. Wisconsin is shooting 46% from the field and 37.6% from 3 point range. The Badgers make 74.4% of their free throws. Wisconsin is #29 in free throw shooting nationally. Badger opponents are shooting 43.1% from the field and 34.4% from 3 point range. Wisconsin averages 33.5 rebounds per game and opponents average 29 per game. The Badgers average 12.1 assists, 8.1 turnovers, 5 steals and 3.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.7 assists, 9.9 turnovers, 4.2 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.
Forward Frank Kaminsky averages 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game. Guard Ben Brust averages 13 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Forward Sam Dekker averages 12.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Guard Traevon Jackson averages 10.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Guard Josh Gasser averages 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Forward Nigel Hayes averages 7.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Duje Dukan, Bronson Koenig, and George Marshall will also get significant minutes in the rotation.
Arizona is coached by Sean Miller. Sean’s younger brother Archie coaches Dayton, and the Flyers are also in the Elite Eight. Arizona has losses at California, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA. The Wildcats have key wins over Cal Poly, Long Beach State, at San Diego State, Rhode Island, Drexel and Duke in the pre-season NIT in New York City, Texas Tech, UNLV, New Mexico State, at Michigan, Washington State, Washington, at UCLA and USC, Arizona State, Colorado three times, Utah three times , Cal, Stanford twice, Oregon and Oregon State twice. Arizona is 21-15 ATS and the total is 13-20-2 this season.
Arizona is outscoring teams 73-58 this season. The Wildcats are #5 nationally in points allowed. Arizona is shooting 47.1% from the field and 36.1% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are #49 nationally in field goal percentage. Arizona makes 65.5% of their free throws and are #314 nationally out of 351 teams in that category. Wildcat opponents are shooting 38% from the field and 32% from 3 point range. Arizona is #4 in field goal defense and #59 in 3 point defense. The Wildcats average 38.5 rebounds per game and opponents average 27.1. Arizona is #26 in rebounding and #14 nationally in rebounds allowed. The Wildcats average 15.1 assists, 10.4 turnovers, 5.9 steals and 4.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.2 assists, 12.4 turnovers, 4.8 steals and 3.2 blocks per game.
Guard Nick Johnson averages 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Forward Aaron Gordon averages 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. Forward Brandon Ashley averaged 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1 assist per game. He broke his foot in the Cal loss and is gone for the season. Center Kaleb Tarczewski averages 10 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1 block per game. Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson averages 8.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. Guard T.J. McConnell averages 8.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Guard Gabe York averages 7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
Wisconsin is 6-0 ATS in non-conference games, 7-1 in neutral site games, 6-1 in NCAA Tournament games, 4-1 against teams with winning records and overall.
Arizona is 4-0 ATS against Big Ten teams, 7-2 in NCAA Tournament games, 20-8 in non-conference games, and 1-4 in Saturday games.
This should be a defensive struggle, as both teams give up 61 or less points per game. Arizona has a huge edge in rebounding. In order for Wisconsin to have a chance they must hit their 3 pointers, and that might not even be enough. I think the Wildcats pull out a close game in the end.