That was fun. A strong win after a good sweat after the 59-11 run that sent American back to their Theory of Campaigns 201 class. Good weekend all around.
As we await Baylor, let's look back on the takeaways we have from this weekend.
1. Veteran experience does have a tendency to step up come tournament time
Ben Brust may be the only senior, but Wisconsin's junior corps of Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson and Frank Kaminsky is playing at peak efficiency. All three scored at least 20 points this weekend, and they all were key in terms of taking back the Bradley Center after Oregon outscored American by 14 in the first half alone. The second-half adjustments and some clutch play all around allowed for a buzz around the state that will likely extend at least into Tuesday.
2. Brust is out of his slump
Brust has shot just under eight three-pointers per game for the month of March. It doesn't take a man of science to tell you that's a lot, and we all remember that brief bit of the season when he was ice-cold (there was an 1-for-18 stretch if I remember correctly). But here's the thing -- Brust has let fly from beyond the arc 55 times this month. He's made 28 of them. That's 51 percent from three, and if you allow me a little gallows humor, there's no way possible he can slump again.
3. Nigel Hayes hasn't been needed
You look at Nigel Hayes only scoring 12 points this weekend and you might say to yourself "Self, where has ol' Nigel been?" Well, as rotations shorten, his time is going to be squeezed a little especially if Sam Dekker's playing well (and he is). Hayes has been active when he's had time on the floor, adding six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a blocked shot to his stat sheet in only 32 minutes of game action. He should step up if called.
4. This was a weekend of Good Trae
I know we've thrown out the qualifier of Good Trae versus Bad Trae a lot these past few years, but he came up large this weekend beyond the assist that gave the Badgers the lead to stay against Oregon. In a game where the Badgers struggled from the line, Jackson hit eight of 10 free throws that all were attempted after the final TV timeout (fun fact: they were all with the Badgers either tied or leading, too). He also led the team in scoring with 18 against American. He definitely deserves credit for the Badgers getting this far.
5. If you want to remain skittish...
The Badgers shot 51 threes on the weekend. They made 21. That's good for 41 percent. That's above their season total of 37.6 percent. This isn't me saying the Badgers can't win without the heat from beyond the arc; they've won games scoring in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and they broke 100 against North Dakota.
All I'm saying is there is probably going to be at least one more moment of white-knuckle time before the Badgers get to play with house money. Strap in, kids. We're going on a ride.