Why the Wisconsin Badgers can win the Final Four
March 31, 2014 § Leave a comment
Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky was asked in a postgame interview if he was surprised by the Badgers’ 64-63 overtime win against top-seeded Arizona.
“No,” he said bluntly.
The rest of the country should stop acting so surprised, too. This Wisconsin squad is the truth.
Bo Ryan was perhaps the best coach in college basketball yet to reach a Final Four. Not anymore. Ryan’s teams have always been defensively-sound and that’s led to 14 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and top-4 Big Ten Conference finishes.
The difference this year? The offense is as potent as it’s ever been, for starters. But the reason Wisconsin is more than a Final Four surprise is multi-faceted.
Wisconsin’s chemistry is championship material. So much of basketball can be broken down into Xs and Os but when it comes down to it team synergy and camaraderie can be the difference-maker. This group has that in its finest form. It’s obvious they love playing together and there’s a trust factor.
Frank Kaminsky. The 7-footer is the ultimate X-Factor, evidenced by his 28-point, 11-rebound performance vs. ‘Zona. He stretches the floor and when his jumpers are falling, there’s plenty of space for guards Traevon Jackson, Ben Brust and Josh Gasser to operate.
Defense wins championships. Wisconsin’s a safe bet to win the national championship because the team’s offense doesn’t have to be firing on all cylinders to win. The Badgers weren’t at their best against the Wildcats on Saturday but still hung tough. The team’s man-to-man defense is based on toughness and grit, which carries over on the offensive end.
The perimeter attack. With the exception of Nigel Hayes, any Wisconsin player on the court will launch a three-pointer comfortably and accurately. That inside-out ability is tough for any defense to matchup with and it keeps opponents’ defenses honest while providing more opportunity to get to the paint in the process. Arizona is one of the best perimeter defensive teams in the country and Wisconsin still excelled in its execution.
This team is clutch. Wisconsin has composure and poise down the stretch. That was on full display Saturday as well as the entire Big Ten Conference season. Let’s keep in mind this Wisconsin team has given Florida one of its two losses. And if Michigan State beats UConn on Sunday, it’ll have beaten two of its three Final Four opponents.