Wisconsin is one of the most vexing teams in the NCAA tournament, but the Badgers’ loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game shows one this is certain: This team lives and dies with the three-point shot.
The Badgers’ strength is undoubtedly its defense. This is a classic Bo Ryan basketball team through and through, and Wisconsin does not give an inch when protecting its basket.
The team ranks third in the country in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency ratings and has stifled a few of the most explosive offenses in the nation this year.
Michigan was able to put up just 62 in a regular-season defeat to the Badgers and 59 when it lost to Ryan’s team in the Big Ten tournament. Likewise, Indiana managed to score only 59 points when it lost at home to the Badgers in January, then put up just 56 points in a loss to Wisconsin on Friday.
However, the Badgers still had to find a way to score enough points to win these games. Spreading the floor and getting the forwards open shots on the perimeter has been a massively important part of the team’s offense.
In all four of the wins against Indiana and Michigan, the Badgers shot at least 30 percent from distance and had at least seven made three-pointers.
The team does not have to be lights-out from beyond the arc to be successful, but as it proved against Ohio State, it is in trouble if it goes cold.
In the Big Ten title game, Wisconsin shot a dismal 16.7 percent from three-point range after hitting just three of its 18 shots from distance. This is the main reason why the team had such a poor offensive output in the 50-43 loss.
When the Badgers play a team with tons of offensive talent that likes to run up and down the floor, it has great success. Ryan’s style allows his team to slow down the game and control the tempo, forcing offensive juggernauts like the Hoosiers and Wolverines out of their comfort zone.
But when a team like the Buckeyes decides to concentrate its efforts on closing down the perimeter and playing extremely hard on defense, Wisconsin can be exposed. It is not coincidence that the Badgers are 1-4 this season against Ohio State and Michigan State.
The key to beating Wisconsin is guarding the three-point shot effectively and playing stout defense. If their opponents do this in the NCAA tournament, the Badgers will be in trouble.
Be sure to download this printable NCAA Tournament bracket and follow all the action with this live bracket that will be updated throughout the competition. Also, don’t miss the Selection Sunday show on CBS at 6 p.m. ET.