Everyone is saying today’s Wisconsin-Oregon game could be a low-scoring affair.
Sometimes, predictions like that don’t come true, but that’s highly unlikey in this case.
The fifth-seeded Badgers have the dreaded 5-12-seed matchup, where upsets often happen.
Oregon (23-12) averages 70.5 points a game — the 236th lowest-scoring team in the country.
Not to be outdone, Wisconsin (23-10) averages 69.1, which ranks them 269th of all the Division I men’s basketball teams.
So, heading in, of course both teams boast about their defenses.
“Our defense is best when we’re in the half-court,” Badgers forward Nate Reuvers said. “We try to limit transition in every game. That’s something that really hurt us, so playing teams that aren’t necessarily trying to push it as much will play in our favor.”
This kind of style is new for the Ducks, who previously employed a much more fast-paced approach before making some changes this season.
Coach Dana Altman made the change after losing star freshman Bol Bol to a season-ending foot injury after just nine games. Without a player who could generate quick offense, the Ducks have had to slow things down just to get good shots.
“We’re not doing it really, you know, on purpose,” Altman said. “It’s just something that’s kind of worked out that way that we haven’t been able to generate any good looks early. We don’t have a team that has great driving ability. We don’t have a true post-up guy that we can just throw it into right away. So some of our offensive possessions we have to manufacture some shots, and because of that it takes a little longer at times. But it wasn’t anything that we necessarily planned.”
With most of these teams willing to walk it up the court, run down the shot clock on each trip and placing a heavy premium on preventing fast breaks, each possession will be important.
Easy baskets figure to be hard to come by and failed trips could prove costly.
“It maximizes or it puts an emphasis on every possession,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “You have to maximize your opportunities each time.”
In fact, it’s simply not a good foursome if you’re hoping for fast-paced action. On the other side of the bracket fourth-seeded Kansas State (25-8) and No. 13 UC Irvine (30-5).
Coach Bruce Weber’s Wildcats played at the 12th-slowest adjusted pace in the country this season, according to kenpom.com, allowing only 59.1 points per game and holding 17 of 33 opponents under 60 points.
That’s an approach that should feel comfortable to the Anteaters, who ranked 296th out of those 353 schools in adjusted pace and have held opponents to 38 percent shooting this season.
“They’re excellent as a defensive basketball team, which is often the most frustrating thing to play against, is a team that can just shut you down,” Anteaters coach Russell Turner said. “We’re that team in the Big West. Kansas State is that team in the Big 12, though, and that’s a different deal.”