Wisconsin Basketball: Wisconsin-Baylor Sweet Sixteen game preview

Never before has the Wisconsin Badgers faced off against the Baylor Bears.

For Wisconsin, they will once again have to deal with clashing philosophies. Head coach Scott Drew wants his Bears to play an up-tempo game to get his athletes in the open court. Baylor did so Sunday, dismantling Creighton 85-65 while shutting down the nation’s top scorer Doug McDermott.

To advance to the Elite Eight, Wisconsin will basically have to focus on whatever the Blue Jays didn’t do. UW matches up well against the Bears who have won 12 of their past 14 games.

Here are my three keys for Wisconsin if they wish to stay in Anaheim for the weekend.

Kaminsky vs. Austin

Not often do two great centers meet in college basketball. Tonight we have the privilege to see Frank Kaminsky face off against Isaiah Austin.

BaylorAustin’s game revolves around his athleticism. The Sophomore stands 7-foot-1 with a reach just nine inches below the rim. He moves well vertically and and can get up the court quickly.

Kaminsky is a bit different.  He’s an inch shorter than Austin with about 20 extra pounds. His wider frame size makes for a slight difference in styles. For majority of Wisconsin’s sets, Frank will turn his back to his defender while attempting to push himself into position.

Makings things physical would take Austin out of the game. For the most part it should be easy.

Austin is Baylor’s third leading rebounder; stunning for being the teams starting center and tallest player. He’ll often get pushed around by much smaller players. Isaiah will have his hands full finding position against this tough Wisconsin team.

Beware of Austin’s mobility however. Falling asleep on him defensively will lead to easy jumpers. Isaiah’s offensive game mirrors that of a shooting guards. It’s not often you find a center that can nail step back threes.

Kaminsky along with the rest UW should respect the range of Austin. Applying pressure with a hand up will go a long way. Baylor has relied on Austin quite a bit over the past month; taking him away could create major adversity for the Bears.

 Break the Baylor zone

Baylor held Doug McDermott’s Blue Jays to a miserable 5-24 from beyond the arch. Creighton never seemed comfortable as the Bears periodically moved from man defense to zone.

Of the two defenses, Scott Drew’s seemed to rely heavier on his zone. It adapts to the opposition, whether against perimeter shooters or post players. Drew’s defensive approach against Creighton was to take away the three ball and bring the Blue Jays inside. It certainly worked, but against the Badgers he’ll have to be a bit more creative.

Unlike Creighton, Wisconsin has a handful of options offensively. Whether it’s inside or out, UW can score anywhere at will. Kaminsky, Brust, Dekker, and Jackson all average double figures. Baylor won’t be able to focus on one player like they did with McDermott.

Wisconsin will need to move the ball well in order to find their shots. Against Oregon they did a tremendous job sharing the rock. UW’s unselfish play led to 36 points off of 15 assists.

Passing like that will break any zone and Scott Drew knows that. It also doesn’t help when you’re matching up against a Wisconsin team that’s best in the country at securing the ball. Drew will give his zone a chance against Wisconsin. UW’s objective must be to break it early in order to open up the three ball.

Win the first half 

There’s no way for the Badgers to hide from these high-octane offenses. Much like Oregon, Baylor put an offensive exhibition in the second round; especially in the opening half. The Bears shot 63.6 percent from from the field, separating themselves by  20 points by the break.

Anaheim is far from Milwaukee. There won’t be 15,000 fans to pick up UW when things look bad. Something needs to be done to put a hold on first half outbreaks.

Knocking down shots early will go miles. Whenever Wisconsin is ahead, Bo Ryan begins to implement his methodically slow style. Baylor wants to push the up the court any chance they get. If the Bears fall behind early Bo’s torturing offense could cause a lot of frustration.

Wisconsin’s defense is much better than Creighton’s. That’s why I’m telling you to look past the Bear’s 30 point win over the Blue Jays. Wisconsin proved against Oregon that they could score with the nations best.

First half deficits have to come to an end for the Badgers. Yes UW has proven that they can overcome major deficits, but that was with the help of a home court advantage. Lowering Baylor’s shooting percentage while playing at Bo’s pace will assure a Wisconsin victory.