Wisconsin Basketball: Badgers Will Crack Baylor Bears' 1-3-1 Zone En Route to Sweet 16 Victory

By Matthew Sturgeon
Wisconsin Badgers
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Baylor Bears are red hot and look awfully impressive heading into Thursday night’s Sweet 16 matchup in Anaheim against the Wisconsin Badgers.

The Bears thrashed the entire state of Nebraska en route to Anaheim, and with the talent they have, there’s no reason to believe their 2014 NCAA Tournament dominance won’t continue. Freakishly athletic big men Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson have been terrific in each of the team’s first two games. Additionally, Brady Heslip is shooting the lights out and might just be the most lethal three-point threat remaining in the Big Dance.

Everything is clicking and all appears to be good for the boys from Waco, right? Well, as the great Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend!”

Baylor’s season has been a bit of a roller-coaster. Certainly, it’s been up and down at the very least. Lately, or course, it’s all been up. And here’s why: The Bears are playing exceptional defense out of what is known as the 1-3-1 zone. Their defense forces rushed and bad shots, oftentimes from beyond the three-point arc. It’s greatly aided by having long and rangy athletes and players who can majorly disrupt opposing team’s passing lanes to cause a feeling of panic that essentially speeds up an offense.

The problem with this is that the Bears’ next opponent, Bo Ryan‘s Badgers, are as patient as there is on the offensive side of the ball in the game of college basketball. Furthermore, they are so well coached and disciplined to get and take good shots within their controlled, tempo based style of play.

I love the way Baylor has been playing, but quite frankly, I think Wisconsin is a terrible matchup for them. All five of the Badgers’ starters are capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night. To add on to that, this is a team that won’t be intimidated by a pressure zone — as opposed to a one-dimensional team like Creighton — because they can score in a multitude of ways. The veteran and experienced Badgers have the wherewithal to exude patience and find cracks in the zone.

Rushed shots and bad shots aren’t taken by teams coached by Bo Ryan. That’s just a plain and simple truth. Expect All-Big Ten first team selection Frank Kaminsky to be established early and often in this contest, and to go a step further, count on a Badger victory.

Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27

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