Of all the games of basketball I’ve watched, that Wisconsin-Oregon game was certainly one of them. I did not know whether to be mad or sad or in awe of my own stupidity during the second half of this one. I settled into a nice cocktail of all three while slowly finishing my Karben4 Fantasy Factory that I had opened to “turn the momentum around by drinking Wisconsin beer.” To be fair, right after I opened the beer Nate Ruevers made a free throw and the Badgers were up 1-0 since I had taken a sip.
I did all I could, people.
As a recurring guest on Bucky’s 5th Podcast, I am often one to fire off lukewarm takes that really get the listeners to say “meh;” and one of those takes from last week consisted of me noting that Kansas State struggled to score and there was no way they could beat UC-Irvine (GO ANTEATERS!). That was a good take as our Fighting Anteaters beat K-State.
However, on the very same podcast I predicted a team that also struggled to score (Wisconsin) would waltz to the Sweet 16 because ... I went to school there? Because I’m a blind homer? Because I’m an idiot? Who knows, but sometimes I think I should listen to myself.
At least the announcers were always up to date on their statistics and didn’t rely on old tropes that usually refer to the football teams of the respective conferences playing in this game though.
Here's that big contrast in tempo in the announcers keep referring to.— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) March 22, 2019
Oregon: 68.1 possessions per game.
Wisconsin: 67.5 possessions per game.#Badgers will struggle greatly to keep up with that pace.
All KenPom rankings are as of March 23 in the morning
KenPom.com rankings: 14th overall; 62nd offense, 3rd defense
Notable wins vs. Tournament teams: Oklahoma (No. 34 KenPom), Iowa (twice, No. 35 KenPom), Michigan (No. 5 KenPom), Maryland (No. 24 KenPom), Minnesota (No. 44 KenPom), Ohio State (No. 41 KenPom)
Hilarious losses: Western Kentucky (No. 115 KenPom), Oregon (No. 33 KenPom, not because Oregon is bad but because losing by almost 20 in the first round to a 12-seed is, unequivocally, hilarious)
Record: 23-11 overall, 14-6 Big Ten
Are they mad IRL about seeding?: Well, they probably should thank their lucky stars they were even invited to play.
Biggest strengths: Basically none. Senior forward Khalil Iverson played great. He even made a three! Otherwise, nobody played particularly well. Walt McGrory made a three to ensure that Wisconsin didn’t lose by 20-plus points which is good, I suppose. The first half of this game was brutal as neither team shot well and the game was mainly a rock fight (which you’d think favored Wisconsin!) and the second half was brutal for wholly other reasons as the Ducks turned into the Golden State Warriors and shot 70.8 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from deep.
I was really wrong about Oregon, and maybe the Pac-12 as a whole since the conference is undefeated in the Tournament so far, and that sucks. Kenny Wooten is a carbon-copy of Jordan Bell and Payton Pritchard made the Wisconsin backcourt look foolish. Not to mention Paul White and Louis King who were maybe the two best players on the floor (Wisconsin players need not apply for this distinction).
If Wisconsin is a basketball team that harkens back to tough, grind-it-out, Big Ten teams of yore, then Oregon is a basketball team from the future. They started four 6’9 dudes that could switch on defense and (half of them) could shoot the three. Pritchard orchestrated everything deftly despite being forced into seven turnovers (he did have eight assists) as the primary ball-handler.
The Badgers are not doomed to slip back into conference and national irrelevancy, like many posters here and on Twitter dot com seem to think, but they are going to need to take a long look in the mirror and figure out where they want to go from here. I do not know if I ever see Wisconsin trotting out a lineup like Oregon’s, but the future of basketball is becoming positionless and shooting-oriented, and the Badgers cannot be left behind playing like it’s 1999.
Lastly, what the hell, Bucky?!?!
Biggest weaknesses: Can I start off with a tough stat to swallow?
Big Ten In Postseason Play:— Thomas Beindit (@tbeindit) March 23, 2019
-9-1 Overall Record.
-7-1 in NCAA Tournament play.
-Wins over AAC, ACC, and B12.
-Upset win over B12 Tourney Champs.
-Most teams in Round of 32 of any league.
The Badgers are the “1” in both of those records. We are a meme now. Smdh. WHY COULDN’T GARDNER-WEBB HAVE BEATEN VIRGINIA?!?!
Look, everything about this game was bad and everything that I mentioned needing to go right, uh, didn’t. We knew going into this game that the Badgers were going to get a lot of three point attempts (they hucked 30). We knew someone was going to have to make a couple threes that they normally didn’t (Kobe King was 0-for-2, Brevin Pritzl was 0-for-3 and Aleem Ford was 0-for-2, and the three of them combined for four total points). We have always known that Ethan Happ was going to have to play well (he didn’t) and we knew the Badgers needed to take care of the ball (they didn’t, turning it over 13 times to Oregon’s 12).
The team shot 6-of-30 from beyond the arc, with Reuvers and D’Mitrik Trice making two each, Iverson making one (!!!!) and McGrory making one to end the game. That’s really awful. Brad Davison missed all seven attempts from deep, and even though Trice made two, he needed 10 tries to do so. For a team that had shot well from deep throughout the season, there was basically a zero percent chance they were going to win shooting 20 percent from there.
Broke it down the other day on the podcast, but here's the updated numbers. Trice and Davison struggled, but it was a team-wide issue. Only Pritzl shot better in the last 12 than in the first 22. pic.twitter.com/rxESd1wyZf— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) March 23, 2019
A problem that plagued the Badgers in many of their losses this year was the lack of a tertiary, or sometimes even secondary, scoring option beyond Happ. Iverson became that option during the postseason and stretch run, but no one else scored in double figures on Friday. It will be interesting to see what the offense looks like next year without Happ and I’m excited to dig into that discussion this offseason.
Happ is one of the best players in Wisconsin Badgers basketball history. That cannot and will not be disputed. Hell, he is statistically one of the best players in Big Ten Conference history. He didn’t have much or any help against Oregon, but he also did not acquit himself well. He grabbed eight rebounds (two offensive) which was good and he tied for the team lead in scoring with 12 points which is also good (I guess), but he shot 5-of-10 from the field. That is the absolute bare minimum someone who doesn’t shoot further than three feet away from the basket should shoot). He also turned the ball over five times, looked lost on defense occasionally and didn’t have a single assist.
I have spent the entire season yelling at the television whenever Happ decides he is going to play point center and starts dribbling the ball up the court, and every single time (don’t fact check this) turns it over. OK, maybe it wasn’t every time, but he did turn the ball over in these scenarios more than once, and he should never be in this situation! Why the hell do the Badgers even have guards if Happ is just going to bring it up and turn it over??? Ugh, whatever, this was not all his fault. HE didn’t miss any of those threes.
The turnovers were bad, but that was not that big of a deal honestly. Oregon turned the ball over too, they just made all of their shots (basically) and swatted a bunch of Wisconsin’s shots. The Ducks played far better than I thought they would and they forced the Badgers into tough scenarios that Wisconsin couldn’t battle out of. Congrats to them and Puddles and I hope the Anteaters destroy you.
Poor Dave Pasch.
Guessing that Bill Walton texted Dave Pasch “conference of champions!” roughly 250 times during that Oregon-Wisconsin game.— ben (@VT_Ben) March 22, 2019
When do they play next?: MERTZ MERTZ MERTZ! SPRING PRACTICE IS COMING UP BABYYYYYYYY!