Is there a chance for greatness here? Yes, but... - Jonathan Daniel
I've made mention of liking the Badgers' chances to make a run in the tournament. But can they make the Final Four?
I believe in the Badgers. I believe that in 30 hours, the whimsy, horrifying and otherwise of the Ole Miss fanbase will have moved on. We don't know the results as of yet. But there is one thing that's true.
The draw seems wide open. The top three seeds seem vulnerable. The No. 4 seed is Kansas State. I've had more than one person ask me if it was crazy that they had the Badgers in the Elite 8. I'll tell you what I told them.
Yes, the Badgers can make a run. And yes, I'll explain why.
"Second" Round vs. Ole Miss
Why the Badgers win: Because they have a defense that could take Marshall Henderson into one of those horrible nights that he's had along the way. They also somehow have an offensive rating above Ole Miss in one of those strange "advanced statistics." It's true. Also, that whole lack of a third rebounder thing could come back to haunt them.
Why the Badgers lose: Henderson gets loose and gets hot. Also? The Badgers could not get to 50.
"Third" Round vs. Kansas State/La Salle
Why the Badgers win: Kansas State doesn't have the shutdown defense it's enjoyed in recent seasons. The Wildcats are not close to a sieve, but a patient team can get good shots off on them. La Salle is a team that needs their three-point shots to fall to win. Boise shot 50 percent and out-rebounded them. If it pulls the upset, it won't get a second one.
Why the Badgers lose: Kansas State boasts five guards that hit above 34 percent from three. La Salle boasts four that hit above 38. If there's anything that can prove my confidence in winning the second-round games wrong, it's ridiculous and copious amounts from three. Also? The Badgers might not get to 50.
Sweet 16 (Likely Opponent: Gonzaga, Other Contenders: Pittsburgh, Wichita State)
Why the Badgers win: History's on their side. Mark Few's never taken a Gonzaga team past this point, and he's had some good ones along the way. Also, there is a tendency for them to play down to the level of their competition. Few remember them having to escape Pullman and a cellar-dwelling Washington State, but they did. Pittsburgh's also had issues in the second week of the tournament, and the Badgers live in that style of play. Wichita State has one guy who can hit from three and Wisconsin can rebound with them.
Why the Badgers lose: Gonzaga's good. I mean, despite my desire to make a hacky "The Secret World of Alex Mack" joke about Kelly Olynyk, he's going to the NBA sooner than later. Pittsburgh's not going to get blown out and it'll be emotionally relaxed after a day or two of being filled with beans. Recent history dictates a non-Power Six school beats the Badgers here. Because the Badgers might not get to 50.
Elite 8 (Likely Opponent: Ohio State, Other Contenders: New Mexico, Arizona)
Why the Badgers win: For one, they've already won against Ohio State. For two, Ohio State's not scored 60 at any point when they played the Badgers. A hypothetical fourth match-up is one the Badgers can win. New Mexico would have more pressure on them then the Badgers would have. The Lobos would be two rounds beyond previous history. They're a young team and they could well struggle with any good defense at this point. Arizona's been mercurial in conference play and has worst defense out of the three likely contenders.
Why the Badgers lose: Deshaun Thomas could very well get loose and score 25 points. The efficiency might be shaky, but that's over 40 percent of any hypothetical battle with the Badgers. New Mexico knows how to play a grinder's game and it'd also have the proverbial homecourt advantage in any Elite 8 match-up. Arizona put down a 15-point whupping upon the stylistically similar Miami Hurricanes in non-conference play. That doesn't bode well.
Because the Badgers might not get to 50.
So you see, there's enough here to feel good about the Badgers. And then there's the thread of the article that could render this entirety moot. I was pretty subtle about mentioning how the Badgers might not get to 50. So you know?
There is that possibility.