Former Princeton coach and Hall of Famer Pete Carril is considered the master of offensive basketball concepts. When it comes to defense, Wisconsin's Bo Ryan may be Yoda. Yoda has the Badgers back in the NCAA Tournament once again.
Year in and year out no other team gets in an opponent's chest and guards like the Wisconsin Badgers have done over the last decade. Most fans enjoy a symphony of crisp offensive hoops, but give me the heavy metal of tough man-to-man defense guaranteeing my team is in just about every every ball game.
This year's edition is your typical Wisconsin group on the defensive end in that they'll straight up guard you for forty minutes but unlike most Badger clubs, this squad has a few dynamic offensive players that can score the basketball if games happen to become shoot outs.
In a tournament setting, players that can manufacture offense on their own when motion offense or set plays get bogged down are worth their weight in gold. Bo Ryan has a pair of this type of player to go with the Badgers usual roster full of kids that will guard you.
Key wins: Ohio State, Illinois
Key losses: Purdue, Notre Dame
Player(s) to watch: Again, all five players defend but the Badgers have dynamic inside-out offensive duo Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor that few teams can match. Leuer is hybrid power forward who can hurt teams inside and out beyond the arc. Point guard Jordan Taylor is a creator with the ball in his hands but he can score the basketball when his team needs a bucket. The X-factor may be 6'8" forward Keaton Nankivil who is streaky, but gives the Badgers a dangerous third scorer when he's on. Like Taylor and Leuer, Nankivil is dangerous beyond the arc shooting a ridiculous 46% from deep from a forward position. These three make it nearly impossible to zone.
Top 25 Matchup Wheelhouse: Duke, Kentucky. Teams without much size in their front court allow Ryan to play Nankivil and Leuer as posts along with three guards to spread the floor without fear of punishment on the other end. Top teams like Kentucky and Duke would be bothered Wisconsin's style because they would be bogged down by the Badgers' suffocating defense, yet lack the true post threats which would force Wisconsin to play a more honest personnel group in terms of size.
Teams in the Top 25 to fear: Syracuse, Texas, UNC. Syracuse has the back to the basket threat in Rick Jackson which would force Ryan to get more size in the ball game. The ‘Cuse zone is the perfect answer to the matchup questions most teams have with Wisconsin's dynamic personnel. Texas would bludgeon Wisconsin's front court on the glass if Ryan kept his smaller lineup on the floor, and Wisconsin lacks the size at wing to handle Jordan Hamilton. North Carolina's front court would cause serious matchup headaches for the Badgers.
Relevant SBN Blogs: Bucky's 5th Quarter
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