This has to be one of the more intriguing first round matchups. This is a matchup between pure offense and pure defense.
Wisconsin received an at-large bid despite a first round loss in the Big Ten Tournament to Ohio State. The Badgers are just 19-12 overall, 10-8 in conference play, mainly due to their offensive struggles.
They are not the same team as they were in years past, scoring just 64.4 points per game on 44.2 percent shooting. While that percentage may not be bad, they don’t get an awful lot of shots, or possessions, because of their style of play.
Steals, a statistic that the Badgers usually specialize in as part of their defensive strategy, is at a low of just five per game. This also makes it difficult to score easy buckets in transition.
The Florida State Seminoles on the other hand are pretty much the opposite.
There is very rarely a time when they have difficulties on the offensive end, especially when Toney Douglas (21.3 ppg) is hitting his shots. He is the only player to average double figures, but four others score around between eight and nine per game.
The style with which they play very rarely causes them to go into scoring droughts. Defense, on the other hand, has been a concern for the 'Noles all year.
The Seminoles commit a whopping 15.7 turnovers per game, which explains a 1:1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. They don’t exactly play terrific defense, allowing 65 points per game, and fail to force many turnovers on the defensive end.
While they have had success at times throughout the season, their defensive flaws, and low scoring margin of just +3.6 points per game, have certainly hurt.
Both of these flawed power conference teams will square off in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It ultimately becomes a matter of who controls the tempo of the game. If Wisconsin can play their game, one that relies on halfcourt set offenses and forcing turnovers, then they should have no problem winning.
The key will be containing Toney Douglas. If they can give him trouble, the Seminoles may become a bit flustered. Wisconsin commits turnovers just 16.2 percent of the time (fifth nationally), which won’t allow for easy buckets on the other end.
If Florida State can turn it into a fast break game, one in which Wisconsin has trouble slowing them down, then it should be a massacre.
Yet, in retrospect, Florida State played a similar Northwestern team earlier in the year and lost by 14. They certainly can not afford to turn the ball over as much as they do, and will be forced to take quality shots if they hope to break Wisconsin.
The Badgers have the overall edge in my opinion.
Either way, it will definitely be a great game, and one worth watching.
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