One of the most highly anticipated games in the South Region is a first-round matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and Oregon Ducks. Wisconsin comes into the tournament as the fifth seed in the South region, while Oregon comes in as the twelfth seed. The 5-12 matchup has traditionally produced the most first-round upsets, and there will be plenty of people predicting the same thing in this game. If you are a fan of defense, this is the game for you, as both teams will look to slow down the pace.
Wisconsin finished the Big Ten regular-season race in fourth place with a 14-6 conference record. The Badgers are 23-10 overall this season and have some impressive wins on their resume. Wisconsin had their four-game winning streak snapped by Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Oregon needed to win the Pac-12 Conference Tournament to get into the field, and that’s exactly what they did. The Ducks come into this tournament having won eight straight games and are one of the hottest teams in the country. The Wisconsin Badgers are -3.0 point favorites in this first round game over Oregon.
Happ Doing It All For Wisconsin
If the Wisconsin Badgers are going to advance deep in the NCAA Tournament, they will do it on the shoulders of Ethan Happ. Happ is one of the best post players in the country and has carried his Wisconsin team all season long. The senior leads the team with 17.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. You can expect that Oregon will do everything they can to stop the talented forward, but Happ hasn’t been held in check by too many teams. Everything Wisconsin does on offense runs through their big man.
The Badgers allow just 61.4 points per game this season, but a lot of that has to do with how patient they are on offense. Wisconsin doesn’t turn the ball over, and they can knock down shots. The Badgers are shooting 37 percent from the three-point line, and they will need to make them in this game to give Happ some room to operate. Wisconsin isn’t the most athletic team that you will see, but they somehow figure out how to get the job done.
Oregon Starting to Make Shots
Oregon struggled to score for the first half of the season, but they have been making shots of late during this eight-game winning streak. The Ducks are shooting just 34 percent from deep as a team, but that number has been going up with every game they play. Guard Payton Pritchard has the ability to get hot in a hurry and poured in 20 points in the Pac-12 Championship Game. If the Ducks have room to operate, you can expect them to make shots.
The loss of center Bol Bol early this season was another huge blow for the Oregon Ducks. Bol Bol was averaging nearly three blocks per game this season and would have drawn the assignment on Happ. Look for Louis King and Francis Okoro to use their size and length on Happ, but it will be a team effort. The Ducks are a solid defensive team as well, allowing just 62.9 points per game.
Ducks Pull Off First Round Upset
If any team gets to 60 points in this game, that might be a miracle. This will be a slow and methodical type of game, and that is an advantage for both teams. Wisconsin has the bigger star in this game, but Oregon has the better team. Look for the Ducks to find a way to make enough shots to pull off another 12-5 upset. Bet the Oregon Ducks +3.0 over the Wisconsin Badgers.