Men’s Basketball: Badgers open up NCAA Tournament against No. 8 seed North Carolina

The Badgers are looking to win their first NCAA Tournament game since 2017

· Mar 18, 2021 Tweet

Justin Mielke/The Badger Herald

The Wisconsin men’s basketball team (17-12, 10-10 Big Ten) faces a challenging road in their hope to return to the Final Four for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

The Badgers’ road to the Final Four begins Friday as they take on No. 8 seeded North Carolina (18-10, 10-6 ACC) at Mackey Arena in the South Region.

The Badgers enter the NCAA Tournament after a sub-par showing in the Big Ten Tournament. The Badgers squeaked by in their first-round matchup against No. 11 seed Penn State 75-74. Wisconsin moved on to the second round against No. 8 Iowa and despite having a 32-26 halftime lead, the Hawkeyes spurred a second-half rally en route to a 62-57 win.

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Though the Badgers couldn’t pull off the upset, it was a silver-lining seeing Greg Gard’s team to go toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s best teams. Wisconsin will need to carry the momentum into Friday night’s game.

Friday’s meeting is the first between the two programs since Wisconsin’s 2014-15 Sweet Sixteen win. Former Badger forward Sam Dekker came up huge in the Badgers’ 79-72 win, scoring 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting. That year, the Badgers went on to lose a heartbreaker in the national championship to Duke.

To advance Friday night, the Badgers will have to keep North Carolina team off the boards. The Tar Heels are outstanding in getting extra possessions and lead the ACC in rebounds per game (43.1). Expect the Badgers to come out with a focus on boxing out and holding North Carolina to one shot per possession.

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Another key for Wisconsin is forcing the Tar Heels into uncharacteristic turnovers. North Carolina has the most giveaways in the ACC and average 14.8 turnovers per game. On the other hand, Wisconsin only averages an NCAA best 8.9 turnovers per game.

A key player for Wisconsin is senior forward Nathan Reuvers. To combat Carolina’s size, the Badgers might have to play Reuvers alongside big man Micah Potter. If Reuvers can spread the floor on the offensive end, it will allow Potter to have more space to operate inside. With Reuvers and Potter on the floor, the Badgers can match up with Carolina’s size.

Tip-off from Mackey Arena is at 6:10 p.m. and Badger fans can catch the game on CBS.


This article was published Mar 18, 2021 at 8:54 pm and last updated Mar 18, 2021 at 8:54 pm


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