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Mallard Madness: Can the under-Ducks survive the Badgers?

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-3rd Round-Oregon vs Wisconsin Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This Friday at 1:30 PM PT on TBS, the 5-seed Wisconsin Badgers will play against the Mighty Ducks of Oregon! Can the Ducks take down the Badgers?

Oregon v Wisconsin Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

SEASON THUS FAR

RECORD: 23-10, 14-6

BEST WINS: @ Iowa, @ Michigan

WORST LOSSES: @ Western Kentucky, Minnesota, @ Indiana

COMMON OPPONENT: Stanford, Iowa

LAST 5 GAMES:

  • W (3/2) @ Penn State, 61-57
  • W (3/7) @ Iowa, 65-45
  • W (3/10) Ohio State, 73-67
  • W (3/15) B10 Tourney, Nebraska, 66-62
  • L (3/16) B10 Tourney, Michigan State, 55-67
Oregon v Wisconsin Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

SUMMARY: Wisconsin got off to a strong start this season by defeating their first six opponents. The high point of that early run was a 20-point victory over Oklahoma during the Battle for Atlantis. The Badgers’ first loss came to a worthy foe; then-No. 4 Virginia beat Wisconsin, 53-46, in the B4A title game, though Ethan Happ did his best to carry his team by tallying 22 points and 15 rebounds.

Their next four games were decided by less than six points apiece, resulting in a three-game win-streak for the Badgers that ended against Marquette. Wisconsin bounced back with two uncharacteristicly high-scoring wins in which they put up 101 and 84 points against Savannah State and Grambling State, respectively. Their non-conference schedule ended on a sour note when Western Kentucky defended their home court and handed Wisconsin their third loss of the season.

A 14-point opening half against Minnesota doomed Wisconsin to their first conference loss. The hapless Penn State Lions had no answer for the Happ-full Badgers and neither did Purdue, however, the latter opponent was able to find a way to win despite allowing a 31-point, 13-rebound game from Wisconsin’s star player.

Then, Wisconsin suffered another close loss, this time against Maryland, 64-60. An upset of then-No. 2 Michigan began a six-game win-streak that concluded with revenge wins over Maryland and Minnesota, but Michigan served up its own cold plate when the Badgers visited Ann Arbor, then Michigan State piled on Wisconsin’s misfortune by beating them in Madison by a score of 67-59.

The Badgers finished the season winning five of their last six regular season contests, their lone loss in that stretch came against Indiana in double overtime. Wisconsin entered the Big Ten tournament on a three-game win-streak and was able to sit out the first two rounds after locking down the #4 seed. Their victory over struggling Nebraska felt a little too close for comfort and was followed by a 67-55 loss to eventual Big Ten Tournament and regular season champion Michigan State.

The Ducks and Badgers share a pair of common opponents as well as a lopsided history: Wisconsin beat Stanford and split games against Iowa while the Ducks lost to Iowa and split games against Stanford; the badgers ended Oregon’s Tournament run in the round of 32 in 2014 and 2015. Overall, Oregon is 2-5 against Wisconsin.


Oregon v Wisconsin Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

CONFERENCE COMPARISON

  • BADGERS score 69.1 PPG
  • DUCKS allow 62.9
  • BADGERS shoot .453% from the floor
  • DUCKS allow .402%
  • BADGERS shoot .366% from three
  • DUCKS allow .294%
  • BADGERS average 35.2 rebounds
  • DUCKS allow 32.7
  • BADGERS allow 61.4 PPG
  • DUCKS score 70.5
  • BADGERS allow .393% from the floor
  • DUCKS shoot .450%
  • BADGERS allow .312% from three
  • DUCKS shoot .343%
  • BADGERS allow 35.2 rebounds
  • DUCKS average 34.4
  • BADGERS average 12.8 assists/ 9.5 turnovers

PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR

#22 Ethan Happ

6’10, Forward, rSenior

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan State vs Wisconsin David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

(33 GP - 32.0 MPG - .531 FG% - .000 3PT% - .465 FT% - 17.5 PPG - 10.1 REB)

First team All-Big Ten Ethan Happ is Wisconsin’s best weapon, leading his team in points scored, assists and rebounds. If Oregon wants to beat Wisconsin, they’ll need to find a way to throw Happ off his game. He is by far their most important player and will likely dictate the pace of the game.


#21 Khalil Iverson

6’5, Guard, Senior

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

(32 GP - 24.3 MPG - .538 FG% - .000 3PT% - .618 FT% - 6.7 PPG - 4.5 REB)

Iverson will have a tough time against Oregon’s bigs, but if he’s able to hit open shots from mid-range as the defense gravitates towards Happ, then he could wind up with good numbers against this block-happy Duck team.


#0 D’Mitrik Trice

6’0, Guard, rSophomore

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

(33 GP - 32.6 MPG - .389 FG% - .400 3PT% - .750 FT% - 11.7 PPG - 2.8 REB)

Trice started off the season red-hot, putting up double digits in 12 of his first 13 games and scoring in the twenties in four of those games. Since then, he has struggled from beyond the arc, finishing 2-of-10 in his two Big Ten Tourney matchups. A consistent threat from downtown could push the scales in Wisconsin’s favor.


#34 Brad Davison

6’3, Guard, Sophomore

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

(33 GP - 32.2 MPG - .395 FG% - .366 3PT% - .800 FT% - 10.7 PPG - 3.3 REB)

The key to defeating Oregon will be to avoid turnovers, meaning Brad Davison could be best utilized by just dishing out the ball. Keeping possession will be crucial in this defensive-minded slugfest and the sophomore currently has 61 assists to 34 turnovers and is also a threat to score.


#35 Nate Reuvers

6’11, Forward, Sophomore

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

(33 GP - 23.1 MPG - .455 FG% - .375 3PT% - .641 FT% - 7.8 PPG - 3.9 REB)

Against the Tall Firs of Oregon, Nate Reuvers will be asked to do a lot. The 6-foot-11 forward will have to fight for every rebound and will have to play smart if he wants to score against the Ducks’ shot-blockers. If Reuvers can win the majority of his battles on the boards, then Wisconsin should be in line for their third straight victory over Oregon.


PANIC LEVEL

The Badgers have the Nation’s third ranked defense and have held seven opponents to season lows. Wisconsin and Oregon are both defensive-minded teams and it will likely come down to which team can best take advantage of the other’s mistakes.

In short... PANIC!!!!!!!!

55 out of 62 Wooten Blocks

SCORE PREDICTION

DUCKS 57 - BADGERS 53