West Regional Edge matchup: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

Posted Friday, Mar. 28, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 2 Wisconsin

7:49 p.m. Saturday, Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif., TBS

Records: Arizona, 33-4, 15-3; Wisconsin, 29-7, 12-6

Head to head

CategoryArizonaWisconsin
Scoring offense73.173.8
Scoring defense58.463.8
Scoring margin14.710.0
Field goal %47.146.1
3-point FGs5.47.9

Frontcourt

Arizona: Losing Brandon Ashley hurt, but they are still long and athletic behind freshman sensation Aaron Gordon and fellow freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. And 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski is a force in the paint. They have the ninth-best rebounding margin in the country and are also a solid shot-blocking team.

Wisconsin: Fundamentally sound. Frank Kaminsky, a 7-foot junior, is among the best shot blockers in the country and teams nicely with freshman Nigel Hayes and sophomore Sam Dekker. They outrebounded Baylor 39-33 in and are jelling at the right time.

Edge: Wisconsin. Arizona might be more athletic, but the nod goes to experience here. Kaminsky is playing as well as any big man, and the Badgers shut down Baylor posts Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson.

Backcourt

Arizona: Unheralded T.J. McConnell is among the top point guards in the country. Shooting guard Nick Johnson leads the team in scoring and overcame a slow start to finish strong in the win over San Diego State.

Wisconsin: Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson are perimeter threats, each hitting more than 39 percent of their 3-pointers, and John Gasser is one of the best free-throw shooters in the country at 87.1 percent. The Badgers are also finding the open man in the tournament; their assists have gone up every round.

Edge: Arizona. Both backcourts are smart and experienced, but the Wildcats get more scoring from theirs.

Bench

Arizona: Hollis-Jefferson and Gabe York are the two main reserves for the Wildcats. Hollis-Jefferson is a skilled scorer down low, and York has improved his defense. Opponents would rather test him than McConnell or Johnson.

Wisconsin: Hayes and freshman guard Bronson Koenig have been valuable pieces off the bench. Hayes is a presence inside and Koenig is a threat from 3-point range. Junior forward Duje Dukan is the other bench player who plays meaningful minutes.

Edge: Arizona. Hollis-Jefferson has the chance to make the biggest impact of any bench player in this game.

Coaching

Arizona: The Sean Miller era began with the Wildcats missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years in 2010. But the former Xavier coach got them into the Elite Eight in 2011 and has them back to being national title contenders in his fifth season.

Wisconsin: Bo Ryan is among the most respected coaches in the country, taking the Badgers to the NCAA Tournament in all 13 of his seasons in Madison. His team is consistently good and fundamentally sound every year, but he has yet to reach the Final Four.

Edge: Wisconsin. Ryan has established himself as an elite coach, something that Miller is in the process of doing.

Bottom line

Arizona wins a defensive-minded game. The Wildcats are the more athletic team with a veteran point guard, McConnell, and one of the top freshmen in the country, Gordon, peaking at the right time. — Drew Davison

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