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Game notes: No. 9 Wisconsin 85, No. 8 North Carolina 62

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Superior guard play and excellent shooting led the Badgers to a blowout of the Tar Heels on Friday night.

Wisconsin v North Carolina Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Well...that was the game we had been waiting for all damn year!

The Wisconsin Badgers dominated the North Carolina Tar Heels, basically from the opening tip, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after winning 85-62 on Friday night.

The Badgers, who never trailed in the game, played inspired and exciting basketball and, quite frankly, looked like they were 100% locked in and having fun. It has become a bit of a cliche on Badgers Twitter to complain about the lack of energy from UW’s bench during these games but playing in arenas that have some actual fans really seems to be helping this team mentally.

Let’s take a look at some fun facts, stats and highlights from the game!

  • Coming into the game much was made, and rightfully so, of UNC’s dominance on the glass this season. They were the best offensive rebounding team in the nation and many joked that their best offense was a missed jumper because then they could just get a second chance opportunity. While the Heels did win the second chance points battle, 12-9, the Badgers actually had more rebounds (37-34) than them on the game! UNC usually rebounds 40.1% of their misses but the Badgers held them to 30%. Rebounding is all about effort and positioning and Wisconsin found themselves in the correct spot on just about every play. Really a first class effort on the boards Friday night.
  • One of the things I mentioned before the game was how much better Wisconsin’s guards were at rebounding than UNC’s. North Carolina’s top three guards combine for six rebounds. That is how many Brad Davison had by himself.
  • The other main thing that Wisconsin needed to do well was shoot the ball and, boy howdy, did they ever. UW ended up drilling 13-of-27 (48.1%) from deep and even freshman reserve Jordan Davis got in on the action, nailing his only three point attempt at the end of the game. Every time it looked like UNC was about to make a run in the second half it seemed like the Badgers answered with a timely three pointer. It was a thing of beauty and exactly how a senior led team should react.
  • The Badgers were 10-of-16 on shots at the rim, a marked improvement over most of their games this year. Despite UNC having a bunch of tall dudes UW wasn’t scared to take it to the tin. You love to see it.
  • While this may have gone unnoticed by the regular fan you, the attractive and attentive B5Q reader, probably saw that little used freshman 7-footer Steven Crowl got three minutes of playing time in the first half. Crowl missed his only shot attempt but got two huge offensive rebounds and even doled out an assist. To win in March you literally need contributions from everyone and Crowl’s three minutes were absolutely necessary for UW in the first half.
  • The star of the game was Brad Davison. He poured in 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting (5-of-8 from deep), pulled down six rebounds and had an assist. He also played his usual solid defense. There isn’t much more to say, Davison was the best player on the court and had an outstanding showing.
  • Davison’s backcourt running mate, D’Mitrik Trice, also had a great game. Trice scored 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting (3-of-8 from three), grabbed five rebounds and had three assists. Great guard play has been the key to March Madness runs forever, and if Davison and Trice are going to each score 20+ points per game Baylor is going to be in for a real challenge on Sunday.
  • Freshman wing Jonathan Davis was a real difference maker as well. He scored six points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out three assists, had one steal and one block. He is extremely active on defense and his low usage on offense makes him an ideal complementary piece to Trice, Davison and Micah Potter.
  • Speaking of Potter, he hit both of his three point attempts (scoring nine points overall) had four rebounds, three assists and three blocks. He was also a game-high +28. I feel like I’ve been saying this after every game recently but Potter’s defensive improvements throughout the season have been impressive.
  • While Aleem Ford didn’t have a great shooting night (4-of-10 from the field, 1-of-5 from three) I thought that his willingness to get some rebounds was indicative of Wisconsin’s effort on the night. He had five rebounds (two offensive), two assists and a steal. He was the only player on Wisconsin with a negative plus/minus (-2) but I loved his effort.
  • Nate Reuvers had four blocked shots and five rebounds (two offensive) to go along with seven points (on 2-of-8 shooting which...wasn’t great but whatever). Reuvers, and Potter, did a good job boxing out UNC’s bigs which is one of the reason that Davison, Trice and Davis were able to corral so many boards.
  • Tyler Wahl had one point and one steal. He played with good energy but just couldn’t really get anything going on either end of the court.
  • Trevor Anderson had one rebound, one assist and one steal in five minutes of action.
  • Carter Higginbottom also had a steal.
  • The Badgers scored 1.29 PPP while the Tar Heels scored 0.94 PPP.
  • Wisconsin only had seven turnovers, which is below the nation leading average.
  • In the first half, UNC big men Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks combined for three points on 1-of-8 shooting. Despite the slow start, UNC still ended up with 38 points in the paint, 10 more than the Badgers.
  • After 10 minutes the game was tied at 16 but the Badgers closed the first half on a 24-8 run and never looked back. Their minimum win probability was 53% (23 seconds into the game natch).