Saturday, 5:49 p.m. MST
How they got here: Wisconsin's resume is certainly impressive. Bo Ryan's squad went through the non-conference season without a loss, and that included wins against No. 1 NCAA Tournament seeds Florida and Virginia. They lost five of six near the beginning of the Big Ten schedule, but down the stretch, following a Feb. 1 loss to Ohio State, lost only to NCAA Tournament teams in Nebraska and Michigan State.
In the tournament, UW ripped American 75-35, rallied in a very close game with Oregon, then steadily handled Baylor and the Bears' zone defense that locked down Creighton a game prior.
Style game: Wisconsin has a team-oriented offense that can pick apart the best of defenses with ball movement, few mistakes, and very good shooting. The Badgers actually aren't as deadly of a three-point shooting team as you might think at 37.6 percent on the season, but they do have a lot of options. They can spread the court and get open quite easily.
Wisconsin doesn't turn it over much, but the Badgers do have what's been called the best offense compared to any past Bo Ryan team. Bad news for a short Arizona bench: the Badgers rank 13th nationally in free throws attempted, so foul trouble might again be an issue for UA.
The pace should be a bit better than the SDSU game, and defensively, Ryan's squad will go with a similar Pack Line defense to what Arizona employs.
Who's who? Six-foot-1 guard Ben Brust is the team's prolific three-point threat who takes more than six per game and hits 39 percent. Guard Josh Gasser takes 3.5 threes per game and leads his team by hitting 45 percent from deep. The biggest issue, perhaps, for the Wildcats is wiry 7-foot center Frank Kaminsky, who shoots 37 percent from deep, and 6-foot-8 forward Sam Dekker, who can also stretch the court a bit. Point guard Traevon Jackson averages 4.0 assists per game and will shoot the three only occasionally but can knock it down.
Zeus the X-factor
The main matchups lie in how the Wildcats like Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can defend the three-point shot. It's quite possible that this is a chess-match, where Wisconsin can knock down some shots by getting free, but getting free will be rare to occasional with UA having the length to close out on shots, and the defense to prevent dribble-drives.
But the interesting matchup is at center. Kaminsky is a unique player, and he's coming off an 8-for-11 shooting performance as UW picked apart Baylor's zone. With a thin 7-foot, 235 pound frame, will he be able to combat Tarczewski in the post? On the other end, Zeus will need to contest shots out to the three-point line. That is not only a question in itself -- the outside threat will take Tarczewski out of the paint, which could take away Arizona's best asset of contesting shots at the rim.
The Badgers allow 33.7 of their opponents' shots to occur at the rim, which is frequent compared to Arizona's top-10 percentage of 23.7. Whether it be dribble-drives by Hollis-Jefferson, Gordon -- they made the Aztecs' feet look slow on Thursday -- Nick Johnson, or Zeus at the rim, the Wildcats had best attack.
On the rebounding front, Tarczewski and the forwards won't face a rebounding machine like Weber State's Joel Polomboy or SDSU's Josh Davis, who both battered UA on the boards. Kaminsky and Dekker average more than six rebounds per game, each.
Arizona's offense hasn't been pretty. On end, it's been brought up that the Wildcats are at their best when in transition, but that's not going to happen against a Wisconsin team that turns the ball over just eight times per game. It didn't happen against the San Diego State, but what did happen was a sneaky good offensive effort.
Even though it was cringe-worthy that two freshman, Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson, had to carry the offensive load, Arizona did shoot 48 percent and score 70 points. How slow-paced was the game? SI.com's Andy Staples has the pure numbers.
It was only a 57-possession game, so the final score doesn't hint at the offensive prowess from a limited team vs a great D.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) March 28, 2014
Conversely, Arizona scored 1.23 PPP with Nick Johnson being held scoreless for 37 minutes. Altho his 15 late points made up for that.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) March 28, 2014
Add in that the Wildcats have shown against teams like Oregon and UCLA that they can score with a faster pace, and there shouldn't be a whole lot of worry about Arizona struggling to hang with the Badgers. Arizona survived for 37 minutes without Nick Johnson scoring on Thursday, but another bad shooting effort from him and Gabe York will put Sean Miller's crew in a serious offensive bind against a better offensive club.