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2022 NCAA Tournament: Wisconsin vs. Colgate by the numbers

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Stats! I don’t understand them but I sure as hell will post them and pretend I do!

Nebraska v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

We already know when and where the 3-seed Wisconsin Badgers will open up their NCAA Tournament run. We also know who the Badgers will play, that would be the 14-seed Colgate Raiders. What we don’t know is how the game will play out. While we won’t be able to predict it exactly, obviously, taking a look at a bunch of numbers can help us start to understand how things might unfold.

First things first, let’s take a look at each team’s Four Factors, courtesy of KenPom. While he isn’t always the most popular guy around these parts, Pomeroy’s numbers are still useful in trying to suss out what might happen in an upcoming game.

Colgate Four Factors

4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
eFG% 55.9 (11) 49.0 (127) 50
Turnover% 16.9 (73) 16.2 (299) 18.4
Off. Rebound% 26.6 (231) 24.8 (56) 28.1
FTA/FGA 26.7 (281) 24.3 (40) 30.3

So a couple of things jump out at you right away. Firstly: this team can shoot the dang ball. We can discuss Colgate’s strength of schedule (it’s extremely poor) all we want, but their ability to shoot, especially from deep which we will get into later, is frightening for any opponent. The Raiders don’t get to the free throw line much, due to their success from beyond the arc presumably, but they also don’t foul much either.

It will be important for Johnny Davis and Tyler Wahl to attack the basket and try to get Colgate in foul trouble which is something they are not used to dealing with. Closing out on shooters will also be crucial. The Badgers are solid at limiting three point attempts by their opponents, but Colgate will provide a steep challenge there.

Wisconsin Four Factors

4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
eFG% 48.2 (259) 49.4 (148) 50
Turnover% 12.7 (2) 16.9 (273) 18.4
Off. Rebound% 25.9 (250) 24.1 (41) 28.1
FTA/FGA 32.3 (112) 27.6 (102) 30.3

I think by now we are all pretty familiar with Wisconsin’s statistical profile this season. They aren’t a very good shooting team, they almost never turn the ball over and they don’t give up many offensive rebounds. It doesn’t look like the Raiders are some wild, swarming defense so I’d imagine Wisconsin’s turnovers will be low again.

Colgate has a pair of bigs (6-foot-11 Jeff Woodward and 6-foot-10 Keegan Records, both of whom are 250 pounds plus) that rebound the ball well, but Steven Crowl and Chris Vogt (and honestly, Johnny Davis too) should be able to combat them on the glass. As far as shooting goes...you never really know what you’re going to get with these Badgers. Colgate’s defense, overall, is a bit below average but there is no glaring area that Wisconsin should be looking to exploit.

We’ve already hinted at it and, if you’re on Twitter a bunch, you’ve probably already seen a bunch of people talking about it but...Colgate is a trendy upset pick because of one very big reason: their shot making. Just look at the below graph, the Raiders take good shots and make them better than almost any other team in the tournament.

For your mental health maybe don’t look at where the Wisconsin logo is on the graph.

Colgate shoots 40.1% from three as a team, which is second best in the nation, and they do it on high volume. They have five guys that have attempted over 80 three pointers this season and the worst shooting percentage out of any of them is 35.8%. That would lead the Badgers (if you exclude Lorne Bowman who is shooting 40% on 30 attempts this season but hasn’t played in nine games and isn’t expected to play in this tournament).

The Raiders have three players shooting over 41% from deep, including Oliver Lynch-Daniels, a senior reserve guard, that is shooting an eye-popping 53.7% (44-of-82) on the season. One of the only positives I can figure out about Colgate’s shooting from beyond the arc is that their big guys don’t do it. Their three tallest players are a combined 1-for-8 from three, so at least they don’t have all five guys on the court who can rain threes on your head.

The Raiders also don’t need much dribbling to get off their shots. Their catch and shoot numbers from three are impressive. They are No. 7 in the nation in assists/field goal made, dropping dimes on 62% of their made baskets. Defensive rotations are going to have to be crisp for the Badgers and Chucky Hepburn will have to make life miserable for the Raiders at the point of attack.

Colgate also uses ball screens to great success, averaging 26.8 points per game out of ball screens at 0.89 points per ball screen play (these stats are from Dylan Burkhardt’s invaluable NCAA Tournament guide $). Wisconsin doesn’t defend ball screens very well which is something the numbers and the eye test tell us. Hepburn and Davison and Davis are going to need to battle through screens to prevent easy looks. Luckily, that is something they are all pretty good at.

While Colgate has a number of things that make them a trendy upset pick: a veteran rotation that has “been there” before, hot shooting from deep and playing a team (Wisconsin) that many have old stereotypes against, there is one big thing they don’t have.

Johnny Davis.

Teams that have star players who can get them a bucket when needed always seem to do well in the NCAA Tournament. A player like Davis has the potential to carry the Badgers to a win on a night when the rest of the team isn’t playing well, and Colgate doesn’t have a player like that. A lot will hinge on how well Davis’ ankle is feeling, but he will have had a week in between games so hopefully it is feeling better than it did during the Michigan State game in the Big Ten Tournament.

Davis is the player with the third highest usage of any in the tourney, so Wisconsin will obviously be relying on him a ton. The Badgers have shown an ability to win when Davis doesn’t play up to his potential, and maybe an average game from Davis will be enough against Colgate if Tyler Wahl is playing well and Brad Davison is making threes, but I’m sure Wisconsin would rather not find that out.

One thing that I keep reminding myself is that Colgate hasn’t played a defense as good as Wisconsin’s all season. St. John’s would be the closest, I think, and their defensive efficiency is 30 spots worse than Wisconsin’s. The Badgers will, presumably, go through their patented four-minute scoring drought at some point during the game, but they should be able to keep Colgate from scoring a bunch too.

This game should be close most of the way but Wisconsin should pull away at the end, similarly to how Colgate lost to Arkansas last year in the tourney.