After beating Xavier on Thursday night, Arizona will get its rematch from the Elite 8 last year when it lost to Wisconsin 64-63 in overtime. Here are a few things that will help the Wildcats overcome the Badgers and reach the Final Four this year.
Slow Down Sam Dekker
Dekker was able to light it up against North Carolina scoring a career-high 23 points. When Dekker is clicking, then there seems to be no stopping the Badgers. Frank Kaminsky has not shown the touch he usually does from the field in Wisconsin’s last two tournament games. Arizona should try to shut down Dekker and make Kaminsky prove that he is the best player. Don’t let Dekker get hot and put the game out of reach. If Dekker goes cold, then Kaminsky will feel the pressure coming down on him and may force up unnecessary shots.
Dekker has the ability to spark the offense as he has started runs in a time of need for the Badgers in the last two games. Arizona must get more than a hand in his face as Dekker is shooting over 51 percent from the field on the season. Kaminsky may the garner the most recognition from Wisconsin, but the Badgers tourney run may fall on the shoulders of Dekker. Arizona has been a great defensive team all year and will not shy away from the competition.
Solidify Presence Down Low
In the game against Xavier, the Wildcats were dominated in points in the paint. Matt Stainbrook was able to gain position down low and put the ball in the basket multiple times in the Sweet 16 game. Stainbrook is a good player, but he is not the player that Frank Kaminsky is. If Arizona lets up the same things to Wisconsin that they did to Xavier, then they will be packing their things Saturday night.
Continue to Shoot Well
Arizona has the sixth-best field goal percentage in the nation of the season. This comes in part of good offensive players and taking high percentage shots. The better shots that the Wildcats take against the Badgers, the more pressure it puts on Wisconsin to keep up. Arizona played well enough offensively to get past Xavier, but they will want to play even better on that end of the court against Wisconsin. The Wildcats have also averaged putting up 77 points per game in the tournament this year.
The Wildcats need to continue their strong rebounding against the Badgers. Arizona must box out Frank the Tank and the other Wisconsin big men in order to be in position to win. Arizona is the 13th best rebounding team in the nation. Arizona needs to make the Wisconsin offensive trips one and done and not let the Badgers put up any second chance points. Kaminsky ranked first in the Big Ten in rebounds that were available to him. It is true in most games that whoever wins the rebounding battle will win the game.
Get to the Free Throw Line
In the first half of the Xavier game, the Wildcats only attempted one free throw and were tied at the half. The Wildcats were able to get to the free throw line more often in the second half as they finished 17-18 from the charity stripe on the game. If they play Wisconsin like they played Xavier in first half, then it will be tough. But, attacking like they did in the second will help their cause mightily. They call them “free” throws for a reason. Every point will help when you are taking on the Badgers.
Keep Spreading the Wealth
The Wildcats have four players that are averaging double-digit numbers in scoring. This creates a headache for opposing defenses. Arizona should make sure that each player is getting his touches to keep the Wisconsin defense on its heels. The Wildcats had three players score at least 12 points in their victory over Xavier in the Sweet 16. In the second round game against Texas Southern, the lowest output by a starter was 12 points. Wisconsin will not be able to focus their efforts on any one player in this one.