Arizona vs. Wisconsin: Elite Eight storylines

Jeff Gross

Read up before the big game.

The most distressing read from around the web leading into the Arizona Wildcats' big game against Wisconsin comes from ESPN college hoops stats guru John Gasaway (insider required), who breaks down several concerning factors for Sean Miller's team heading into the Elite Eight showdow.

A few main points here. Gasaway finds that Arizona's rebounding rates have dropped considerably through the three NCAA Tournament games compared to the rest of the season, and that's been the case especially for Aaron Gordon and even moreso for Kaleb Tarczewski.

Arizona's defensive rebounding percentage

Player 2013-14 season NCAA tournament
Aaron Gordon 18.7 15.3
Kaleb Tarczewski 17.2 8.6

Also, Gasaway points out that UW center Frank Kaminsky told Madison.com that the team has been instructed to "make them foul us," which is bad news for Arizona considering depth -- and that shooting free throws is an easy way to score against a good defense.

Those things we sort of knew. The rebounding issue might be a little less of a concern against Wisconsin, which doesn't seem like it can match up with Tarczewski, though he has not done well in three tournament games so far. And that's why Zeus and UA's interior play was my key to the game.

On to some other good stuff from the internet.

  • Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports writes on the analytical revolution keeping Sean Miller busy on his cell phone, keeping up KemPom throughout the day. On the other hand Bo Ryan doesn't deal with texting too much, but that hasn't stopped him from seeing basketball the same way as the analytics geeks. Funny thing in there: Dodd notes that Wisconsin doesn't foul much, and while that's good, I wonder if it has anything to do with them allowing dribble-drives and interior shots. The Badgers allow opponents to shoot 34 percent of their buckets at the rim, which is a high percentage, and in a Q&A with Badgers blogger Phil Mitten, the worry over dribble drives did come up regarding Wisconsin. Wrote Mitten: " If Johnson or one of the other guys is able to break down the defense off the dribble and get into the lane, the Badgers are very vulnerable. For one, they sag off of ball screens a little too much, so there are mid-range opportunities against UW. Forcing the defense to collapse also puts Kaminsky at risk for more foul trouble since he'll have to rotate over to help out inside."
  • Matt Hayes of Sporting News has a nice story on Sean Miller and T.J. McConnell.
  • ESPN's C.L. Brown has a story on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who like Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is from the basketball factory of Chester, Pa.
  • The Arizona Daily Star's Jon Gold writes on Kaleb Tarczewski doing preventative work to keep healthy, his feet especially.
  • Finally, Steve Rivera of Fox Sports Arizona reports on Wisconsin's scary offense and how the Wildcats expect to combat it.

Read as much as you'd like, and if you somehow find a reason to believe this game is anything but a toss-up, please let us know. We have no idea how this one will go.

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