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Tale of the tape

Round Of 16 Matchup: #6 Baylor Vs. #2 Wisconsin

By Shawn S. Lealos
Coming into the men’s college basketball tournament, the Big 12 looked strong with Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma all playing strong, while Kansas State and Oklahoma State looked like they could go on a run as well. Baylor was a bubble team that made it thanks to a strong Big 12 tournament showing. Now, Baylor is just one of only two Big 12 teams left as they try for their third straight upset, this one against Wisconsin.

(credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images) (credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images) (credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

#6 Baylor

#2 Wisconsin

Scott Drew led his Baylor Bears through a tough regular season where his team dropped some tough games, actually hitting a five-game losing streak at one point. However, he turned them around, and after leading them to the Big 12 title game, proved that he is still a great post-season coach. This is his third Sweet 16, and if the Bears win this game, it will be his third Elite Eight as well. Coaching Bo Ryan has coached in the state of Wisconsin for 30 years now, the last 13 with the University of Wisconsin. While he won four Division III championships before coming to the Badgers, he has only led Wisconsin past the Sweet 16 once in five appearances. He has been here before, though, and while Drew has been to the Elite Eight one more time than Ryan, Bo has never missed the March Madness tournament in his career at Wisconsin and has been more successful for longer than his rival coach.
Baylor has been on fire since February and they have looked dominant in the tournament so far. They scored 74 points against Nebraska and 85 against Creighton. Five different players scored in double digits against Creighton, with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson both averaging 15 points a game. Offense The Badgers 92nd ranked offense looked dominant against the weak American team in the first game of their March Madness tournament, but they struggled with Oregon in the next round. They still had five players score in double digits in the win over Oregon, led by Traevon Jackson and his 17 points per game.
To understand how good this Bears defense is, look at Creighton. The Blue Jays had the 23rd best offense in the nation, with a 79.5 ppg average. Baylor limited them to under one-point per possession in the second round win, only giving up 55 total points in a 30 point blowout win. They also allowed Nebraska to only hit 15.4 percent of their threes. This unit is completely shutting down their opponents. Defense The Badgers were losing to Oregon at the half and had to fight back offensively to win the game by eight. It was a surprisingly rough performance by a team that ranked 41st in the NCAA overall on defense. They also allowed the Ducks to score 1.18 points per possession, something that will hurt them if Baylor heats up.
The Bears have a deep bench, with Rico Gathers leading the way. He has averaged almost 20 minutes a game through the first two contests with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Also getting a lot of playing time in their last win was Gary Franklin, who played for 29 minutes against Nebraska. Bench Depth Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes are the leaders from the Badgers bench, both getting double-digit minutes. Hayes is the better option with 12 points and six rebounds through the two games.

The winner is

(credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
#6 Baylor
3 out of 4

Wisconsin has the more experienced coach of the two teams, and he has the talent to lead his team to wins when they need to step it up. However, in his more limited trips to March Madness, Scott Drew has been more successful and has a Baylor team that is playing better than almost anyone in the nation right now. Their offense is heating up and their defense is solid. Expect the Bears to get their third straight upset, this one by about three points.

Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience in the media He covers all things college basketball. Find his work at Examiner.com.

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