NCAA Tournament 2013: Why Wisconsin Badgers Are Final Four Contenders

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIMarch 19, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 17: Jared Berggren #40 moves against Evan Ravenel #30 of the Wisconsin Badgers during the Big Ten Basketball Tournament Championship game at United Center on March 17, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 50-43. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers have had a surprisingly good season and are a serious threat in the West region to make it to Atlanta.

Even though the Badgers are only a No. 5 seed, their resume is quite impressive.  They have a 23-11 record, finishing 12-6 in the Big Ten.  They were also one win away from the B1G tournament title, but fell to Ohio State in a close game.  They also defeated Indiana and Michigan twice each.

The Badgers play solid team basketball, making them a good choice to make a deep run.  They may not have a true star, but they play with great fundamentals.  As a team, their defense is stifling, allowing only 55.9 points per game, good for 10th best in the NCAA.

What also makes the Badgers so great is their ability to hold onto the ball.  They average only 9.8 turnovers per game, good for fourth best in the NCAA.  They know how to run their offense and refrain from making bad passes or taking bad shots.

If the Badgers are going to make it to Atlanta, there are a few teams they will likely have to beat.

The Kansas State Wildcats have a very solid team with great players.  Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez make a terrific backcourt, with the two combining for 26.8 points per game.  Fortunately for the Badgers, they limit teams to only 39.4 percent shooting as well as 29.2 percent from behind the arc.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs earned their first ever No. 1 seed in the tournament, and guys like Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris could give the Badgers trouble by crashing the boards and maintaining Gonzaga’s terrific rebounding margin of 7.4 rebounds per game.  However, the Badgers have big guys like Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans who do a great job crashing the boards and can help the team advance even further.

Perhaps the biggest test would be against Ohio State.  These two teams have gone against each other three times this season, with Wisconsin winning once.  In that one win, the Badgers handled the Buckeyes, winning 71-49.  In order for this to happen again, the Badgers will need Ben Brust to step up.  He scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while helping hold Aaron Craft to 2-for-9 shooting and only four points.

It would certainly be a tough road, but the Badgers have the tools and the coach to make a serious run in the tournament.  Keep an eye out for them, because they just might surprise you.

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