What a performance by the No. 2 seed Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday night. Wisconsin dominated the boards, played stout defense and made shots from inside and outside on its way to a 69-52 victory over the No. 6 seed Baylor Bears.
Wisconsin routs Baylor 69-52 to become the second team to advance to the Elite 8! #MarchMadness— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 28, 2014
The Badgers almost put the game out of reach in the first half. While shooting 48.1 percent from the field, they held Baylor to just 5-of-24 shooting for a dismal 20.8 percentage. In fact, the Bears had as many turnovers (five) as shots made before the break, as Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin tweeted:
Stats don't lie. Baylor tallied as many turnovers (5) as made field goals in the first half. Made only 5 of 24 shots. Astounding. #Badgers— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) March 28, 2014
Baylor's defense made things easy for the Badgers on the perimeter as well. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports tweeted this staggering look at a porous Baylor defensive set:
It looked as though Baylor's zone defense was feeding into the strength's of Wisconsin's offense, according to this tweet from Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports:
Even when Wisconsin misses their shots are wide open. They LOVE playing against this zone.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 28, 2014
This first-half trouncing allowed Wisconsin to take a 29-16 lead at the break. This was not how many pictured the game going.
Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead tweeted a single-GIF summary of the game's first half:
Wisconsin continued the onslaught into the second half. Frank Kaminsky was everywhere on the court and appeared unstoppable. The Sports Illustrated College Hoops Twitter account noted that the Badgers extended their lead after halftime:
#UWvsBaylor A dunk for Dekker and layup and-one for Kaminsky, and the Badgers have picked up right where they left off.— SI College Hoops (@si_ncaabb) March 28, 2014
Evan Flood of 247Sports.com tweeted the dominance of Wisconsin's big men midway through the second half:
#Badgers have a 26-19 edge on the glass over Baylor. Wisconsin also with six offensive board.— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) March 28, 2014
Later, Baylor attempted to switch up its defense, but the end result remained the same, according to a tweet from Davis:
Baylor goes to man. Wisconsin scores. Is there a third option?— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 28, 2014
With 10:07 remaining in the second half, the Badgers increased their lead to 21—the largest of the game at that point.
Jason Gay of The Wall Street Journal was just waiting out the inevitable, according to a late-game tweet:
This Wisconsin-Baylor game feels like a long car ride with your grandparents.— Jason Gay (@jasonWSJ) March 28, 2014
A very well-rounded Wisconsin team closed out the game the way it began—in dominating fashion.
The game caused a little friendly sparring between Houston Texans J.J. Watt and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:
Kaminsky led the way for the Badgers, scoring a game-high 19 points and adding four rebounds, three assists and six blocks. Ben Brust was solid from downtown, connecting on three of his five attempts from beyond the arc and scoring 14 points.
Wisconsin's offensive efficiency has been off the charts. Kaminsky has been super.— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) March 28, 2014
Before the game, Brust spoke of his team's versatility during an interview with Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
You look at our roster, down the line every guy that's out there on the floor is a threat to dribble, pass and shoot. So that's nice to have out there and to know that when you're going through warm-ups, if you look around, you never know which guy's day it could be.
Kaminsky also weighed in, speaking of his preparation for Baylor's defense:
We've seen zones throughout the year with different teams in the Big Ten a little bit in the non-conference. What makes Baylor's different is obviously their length. They've got Isaiah Austin in the middle. He's one of the longest players we'll play all year.
So just the athletes and the length combined in their zone is going to be tough to go against. But hopefully we'll be able to be successful against it.
For the Bears, Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Kenny Chery reached double-digit points, putting up 12, 15 and 12, respectively.
Baylor coach Scott Drew praised the efforts of Bo Ryan during an interview with Potrykus:
Well, I think over 700 wins speaks for itself. Thirteen straight NCAA tournament appearances at Wisconsin speaks for itself.
Whenever I hear the word Wisconsin basketball—I'm good friends with Tony Bennett and Dick Bennett—I think it's one of those elite programs and you think of it as a team each and every year that's competing for Final Fours and National Championship.
I understand what great basketball they've had and what a great job coach Ryan has done.
Wisconsin now moves on to the coveted Elite Eight where it will face the survivor of No. 1 seed Arizona and No. 4 seed San Diego State. Both of these teams should be slightly nervous after seeing the way the Badgers played on Thursday night.
Neither Arizona nor San Diego State is as versatile as Wisconsin. No matter the outcome of Thursday's late-night game, Wisconsin looks poised to make a run at the Final Four.