Men's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament West Elite Eight Game Breakdown

Wisconsin Men's College Basketball

West Region Elite Eight Game Breakdown


#1 Wisconsin vs. #2 Arizona (Los Angeles, California)

We have finally arrived at the West region’s premiere matchup even if the path to get here was a bit bumpier than expected. In the Sweet 16, Wisconsin vanquished North Carolina without looking exceptionally good at really any point during the game. The Badgers still got to 79 points, thanks mostly to Sam Dekker’s 23 points on 15 field-goal attempts and Frank Kaminsky’s ability to get the entire UNC frontcourt into foul trouble. Kaminsky finished with 19 points, but it was a slow 19, aided mostly by going 8-of-8 from the foul line, padding his stats late. His real skill in this one was pushing all the Tar Heels forwards to the bench, one after another. Giving away cheap fouls had been a problem for North Carolina all season. In this one, it ended up being its undoing because everything else went okay. Wisconsin failed to force turnovers and it actually lost the three-point battle in one of the individual surprises of the regional. Josh Gasser did a good job defending Marcus Paige, but Wisconsin’s huge second half overshadowed how shaky this outcome was.

In Arizona’s trip to reaching the Elite Eight, it also struggled to exert its dominance. The Wildcats’ large frontcourt had loads of trouble with Matt Stainbrook and Jalen Reynolds down low. Arizona also was a mess on offense, barely reaching 40 percent from the floor, having T.J. McConnell turning the ball over and only just edging Xavier on the boards. The only saviors for the Cats in this one were Stanley Johnson and Gabe York hitting corner threes against the 1-3-1 defense of the Musketeers. Without those shots, Arizona wouldn’t have been able to slug through this one and win in the end.

Wisconsin and Arizona were the best two teams in the West region throughout the season. They also traversed the regional and made it to the final. But in actuality, neither team is playing all that well right now. Perhaps that’s just how business goes for all non-Kentucky teams, but the Badgers and Wildcats have been eking out wins for a few rounds. When faced off against one another, it’ll come down to whoever’s defense prevails. Arizona was expected to dominate Xavier on the glass and in the paint. Instead, XU seemed like it had the stronger post players. Wisconsin was supposed to crush North Carolina from the outside. Instead, UNC hit more threes and made a much larger percentage of its attempts. When neither side is getting what they expect on the offensive end, defense rules the day.  Traevon Jackson’s return for the Badgers may be a big boost (he only played a few, small stretches against Carolina), but unless Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes own the paint, Arizona seems to have the edge here. In an expected rock fight, I’ll take the team who has won all tournament with seemingly nothing but bricks.


Tournament Central