In the first round of an NCAA Tournament West Region game, the Wisconsin Badgers had an uncharacteristic performance, and it cost them against an Ole Miss Rebels team that has come on strong in March.
The Badgers are known for being a fundamentally sound team that shoots well from the outside and values the basketball, but none of those traits were on display during their first round loss. Wisconsin turned the ball over 11 times, which is quite a lot for them, especially considering the slow pace of the game, in which they only managed to score 46 points. Part of the reason for the low scoring total was Wisconsin making just seven of its 30 three-point attempts, which was well below their season average of 34%. By turning the ball over too much and not shooting an efficient percentage, the Badgers weren’t themselves and left the game wide open for the taking.
To their credit, the Rebels did a lot to make the Badgers uncomfortable and take them away from their strengths. Ole Miss continuously switched defenses throughout the game, utilizing man-to-man, zone, and a soft press to keep the Badgers off balance, so that even when Wisconsin had open looks from beyond the arc, they weren’t comfortable when taking them. Defensively, Ole Miss was able to keep the cold-shooting Badgers on the perimeter due to the intimidating size of forwards Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway inside the paint. With the Rebels able to keep Wisconsin out of the lane, the poor outside shooting and turnovers doomed the Badgers.
With bad shots and too many turnovers, Wisconsin essentially gave away the game, as they gave Ole Miss every opportunity to seize control of the game, which they did with a big second half run. For the Badgers, it’s just their second loss in the first round of the tournament under Bo Ryan, while the Rebels, in their first NCAA Tournament since 2002, are moving on to the second round, with their confidence flying sky high.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.