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Final Four Preview: Kentucky vs. Wisconsin
By Mike Tanchevski

Two wins away from a 40-0 season Kentucky faces its greatest threat in the Wisconsin Badgers. Coming off an epic victory over Notre Dame the Wildcats must gear-up to face a Wisconsin team that is more talented than the Irish and will certainly follow the same blueprint, spreading the floor and executing backdoor cuts. The Badgers also have the ability to match Kentucky’s frontline length with an equal skill set.

Both teams have withstood severe tests in the tournament to reach the Final Four and both teams have seen outstanding individual performances at crucial times. Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns scored a season high 25 points against Notre Dame and Wisconsin’s Sam Decker dropped 27 on Arizona in regional finals.

Statistically what may have the greatest impact in the game is turnovers and rebounds.

 

Kentucky

Wisconsin

Scoring

UK 74.6 Opponents 53.9

UW 72.8 Opponents 57.8 

Field Goal %

.468

.482

3-Point Field Goal %

.347

.364

Free Throw %

.725

.764

Rebounds

38.3 per game

33.4 per game

Turnovers

10.6 per game

7.4 per game

Kentucky’s 10.6 turnovers per game ranks 166th in the nation while the Wildcats rank 14th in the nation in forcing turnovers, 13.7 per game. Wisconsin turns the ball over 7.4 times per game while forcing 9.7 per game.

The Cat’s are 2nd in the country in rebounding while the Badgers rank 43rd. Kentucky has a +7.72 rebounding edge on the opposition while Wisconsin is + 5.74 in that stat. Kentucky is a much better offensive rebounding team than Wisconsin, averaging three more rebounds per game than the Badgers.

Wisconsin is not as deep as the Wildcats relying primarily on five players who have averaged over 28 minutes per game. Kentucky has no player averaging more than 25 minutes per game with nine players averaging 16 or more minutes per game.

Kentucky poses a frontcourt threat with 6-11 Towns (10.1 ppg/6.6rpg), 7-0 Willie Cauley-Stein (9.1ppg/6.5rpg), 6-10 Trey Lyles (8.7ppg/5.3rpg) and 7-0 Dakari Johnson (6.5ppg/4.7rpg) , that Wisconsin has not seen. All are able to score in the low post and defend on the perimeter.

The size and athleticism of Kentucky’s frontcourt is complemented by the experience and skill of their backcourt led by the Harrison twins, Aaron (11ppg/1.4apg) and Andrew (9.2ppg/3.6apg). The sophomores are aided by freshman Devin Booker (10.1ppg/1.1apg).

Wisconsin relies on Frank Kaminsky (18.7ppg/8rpg), Sam Decker (13.9ppg/5.5rpg), Nigel Hayes (12.4ppg/6.3rpg) and Bronson Koenig (8.6ppg/2.4apg).

The Badgers also use Josh Gasser (6.9ppg/3.4rpg), Duje Dukan (4.8ppg/2.6rpg) and Traevon Jackson (8.6ppg/2.4apg) to round out their rotation. Jackson, who hadn’t played since early January due to injury, returned to the lineup against North Carolina and Arizona playing limited minutes in each game.

At this stage of the competition every possession has significance, Wisconsin uses their possessions deliberately, they rank 1st nationally in offensive efficiency. Kentucky will push the tempo and create scoring opportunities off the dribble.

Kentucky’s effective use of their bench gives them a distinct advantage in this game as it has all season. With multiple players contributing if one or two players are having an off night, or are shut down by the opposition, there several standouts that can step up and fill the role. Wisconsin uses fewer players in their rotation and requires they have a great effort game in and game out.

Kentucky’s depth should carry them to the championship game.

@RowTwelve

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