Badger Time: How the Badgers Will Fare in the Big Ten and NCAA Tourneys
In the preseason, many people had the Badgers out of or near the bottom of their top 25. They were ranked at No. 24 to start the season, and have since moved up to No. 13.
The Badgers have a first round bye along with fellow powerhouses Purdue and Ohio State who are ranked number two and one respectively.
Do the Badgers have what it takes to capture the Big Ten Title? Or more importantly, can they take home a championship to Madison?
Penn State Vs. Wisconsin
As Penn State won yesterday, they will face Wisconsin in the Quarterfinals.
These two teams split the season series, each winning at home. Now that they are away from home, who has the advantage?
This one should be close for a while, but in the end the Badgers get the W by pulling out late in the game with clutch free throw shooting.
Penn State Leading Scorer: Talor Battle (20.2 PPG)
Purdue Vs. Wisconsin
While a Purdue vs. Wisconsin match-up isn't certain, it is likely.
Purdue plays Michigan State later on today, and should be able to win against the disappointing Tom Izzo coached squad.
Again, the Badgers split the season with this team and like with Penn State, both won at home. They both ended up undefeated at their home courts.
Purdue is the number two team in the Big Ten Tourney, ahead of Wisconsin, but behind Ohio State.
In a slight upset, Wisconsin takes advantage of poor shooting by Purdue, protects the ball and knocks down jumpers all the while sailing to the finals.
Purdue Leading Scorer: Jajuan Johnson (20.5 PPG)
Ohio State Vs. Wisconsin
Though they almost faltered against Northwestern in OT, Ohio State is the No. 1 team in the tournament. Since they face, at best, No. 4 seed Michigan in the Big Ten Tourney until the finals, they will win out.
Like with Penn State and Purdue, Wisconsin split the season series with Ohio State with each team winning at home.
As much as it would be nice to see another upset, Ohio State is too well rounded of a team too fall easy. The Badgers only won at home because of their crowd and environment at the Kohl Center.
In a neutral location, Ohio State wins the game. They don't blow the Badgers out like they did not too long ago at home, but there won't be any late minute drama.
Ohio State Leading Scorer: Jared Sullinger (17.3 PPG)
NCAA Tournament First Round
With their showing at the Big Ten Tournament, let's say the Badgers get a three seed. If not, then they will drop back to a four seed. Still, either one is impressive.
As the No. 3 seed, the Badgers will face a No. 14. That is likely one of the winners of the smaller conferences.
The Badgers played well out of conference with the exception of now No. 4 overall Notre Dame and the UNLV game where they lost in OT away from home.
Expect Bo Ryan to be ready for the tournament and the Badgers win their first game by a good margin.
Rest of the NCAA Tournament
As mistake-free as the Badgers play, I don't see them progressing past the Elite Eight. The Elite Eight is their ceiling and most teams would be happy to get that far.
That said, if Wisconsin wins their first round game like predicted, they face the No. 11 or No. 6 seed. We'll stick with the No. 6 for now.
Wisconsin takes care of the ball as always, shoots a solid percentage and plays lockdown defense. They advance to the Sweet 16.
This time though, they face a No. 2 seed. No. 2 seeds are the likes of Brigham Young, Texas, Duke, SDSU and so forth.
While they could end up winning a game like this, my prediction is that the Badgers bow out in the Sweet 16, winning one more game in the Big Dance than they had in each of the previous two years.