(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) Montana Preview
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(4) Wisconsin Badgers
The Badgers enter the tournament with the top-ranked defense in the country, allowing just 52 points a night on 38 percent shooting. They’re the exact kind of team that we have grown to expect from Badgers head coach Bo Ryan. They rely on their defense, which is just spectacular when you take into account that they don’t block many shots, create a lot of steals or foul very much. They just get after it on that end of the floor. On the opposite end, they have some issues. The 64 points they scored a game is amongst the lowest in the field. They shot under 43 percent on the year. They’re going to rely heavily on senior guard Jordan Taylor to not only lead them in scoring, but also create easy looks for his teammates as well. Look for him to have a big tournament to make up for his early season struggles. The Badgers want to avoid explosive offensive teams who can also defend.
(13) Montana Grizzlies
The Grizzlies, winners of the Big Sky regular season and conference tournament championships, are the reason why Damian Lillard and the Weber State Wildcats are not in the big dance. They defeated them twice in the last three games by 14 and 19 to clinch their ninth tournament appearance. The Grizzlies have been tough the last two times they played on the biggest stage. In 2006, they knocked off Nevada in the first round. The strength of the Grizzlies is in the backcourt, where they feature junior Will Cherry and sophomore Kareem Jamar. They have a seven-footer inside in Derek Selvig, who is skilled offensively. He can hit the occasional three and dishes out three assists a game. He only averages six rebounds though, and the Grizzlies were outrebounded slightly on the season. Against the RPI Top 75 they were 3-3, with their top wins coming against the Weber State and Long Beach State. They’re a solid team defensively, giving up just 61 points a night, but they’re in for their stiffest challenge of the year.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Wisconsin. The Grizzlies are going to have too much difficulty scoring against the great Badgers defense.
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