Wisconsin team capsule
COACH: Bo Ryan, nine years at Wisconsin, nine years in NCAA Tournament
HOW THEY GOT IN: At-large bid
MATCHUP BREAKDOWN: Wofford’s ambitious non-conference schedule (Illinois, Michigan State, Pittsburgh) provided a great measuring stick for what it would take to earn the school’s first NCAA Tournament berth. At the same time, those games provide a great blueprint for Wisconsin to figure out how to attack the Terriers. Both teams are built around three-guard lineups and a forward who serves as the offense’s fulcrum. Wofford’s 6-foot-6 Noah Dahlman (16.8 ppg) is his team’s lone double-figure scorer, but he gets all his work done inside the 3-point arc. Wisconsin’s 6-10 Jon Leuer (14.8 ppg), who has been back in the starting lineup for 4 games, roams all over to take advantage of whatever matchup presents itself.
GO-TO GUYS: Junior F Jon Leuer missed nine Big Ten games with a broken left wrist, but he returned in time to reassert himself as the Badgers’ best all-around threat. The 6-foot-10 Leuer (14.9 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game) looks equally comfortable whether he’s posting up, spotting up for a 3-pointer or driving for a pull-up jumper. Senior G Trevon Hughes (15.4 points per game), who shifted to more of a wing guard when PG Jordan Taylor joined the lineup in mid-January, reaped second-team All-Big Ten honors. Hughes led the Badgers with 67 3-pointers, while All-Big Ten third-teamer Jason Bohannon (65 3-pointers) shoots 41 percent beyond the arc.
THEY’LL KEEP WINNING IF: The Badgers use their experience, confidence and three complementary guards to dictate the tone of games. Not only is Wisconsin undefeated when it shoots a higher percentage from the field (16-0), which is a nod at the team’s refusal to turn over the ball, but Bo Ryan’s squad has shot at least 50 percent in seven of its last nine games. The Badgers also lead the nation, according to Ken Pomeroy, in controlling the defensive glass. That means opponents had better hit their first shot, because they rarely get more. But as Wisconsin showed in the Big Ten tournament, when they don’t hit their open shots, they’re far from unbeatable.
STRENGTHS: Wisconsin leads the nation in fewest turnovers (9.0 per game) and ranks among the nation’s top five in points allowed (56.1 points per game). Sophomore Jordan Taylor, who went from valuable sixth man to invaluable starter when Leuer went down with his broken wrist, ranks among the national leaders in assist-turnover ratio and gives the Badgers another plus defender to join All-Defensive team choice Trevon Hughes. At the offensive end, opponents can’t cheat defensively or don’t dare double-team Leuer in the post because all five starters have the green light to shoot the 3. Wisconsin also won the Big Ten’s regular-season free-throw crown (73.9 percent).
WEAKNESSES: The Badgers don’t have a deep bench, particularly in the front court. When Leuer gets in foul trouble, which has been his tendency since returning from his broken left wrist on Feb. 18, Wisconsin doesn’t have an interior threat. This is a reach, but Wisconsin’s pack mentality on defense leaves it exposed against a team that gets hot from the perimeter, but that’s how it works for most teams.