BOZICH | Why Kentucky Will (And Won't) Beat Wisconsin - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Why Kentucky Will (And Won't) Beat Wisconsin

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A coach who knows Kentucky and Wisconsin says the Wildcats will have to limit the Badgers to less than 8 three-pointers. A coach who knows Kentucky and Wisconsin says the Wildcats will have to limit the Badgers to less than 8 three-pointers.

ARLINGTON, Texas (WDRB) – Kentucky over Wisconsin.

Won't be a walkover. None of the Wildcats' four NCAA Tournament victories have been a walkover. Heck, not one has been by more than seven points.

But the Wildcats will beat the Badgers Saturday night in the NCAA Final Four at AT&T Stadium. Make it Kentucky 69, Wisconsin 65.

The Wildcats are so much bigger – by an average of nearly three inches per starting position. They're more likely to play in the DFW flight path. They have as many NBA prospects on the bench as Bo Ryan has in Wisconsin's starting lineup.

Write this down: Kentucky has beaten better teams to earn their way here than Florida, Connecticut and the Badgers, the three other Final Four teams. In the last dozen days, Kentucky has become proven and tested.

The Wildcats played three games in a football-stadium environment this season. Wisconsin hasn't played any.


"Wrong," said a college basketball coach who knows both teams well.

Wrong?  I'm not familiar with that word. What's wrong about the prediction?

"You sound like one of those guys who thinks Wisconsin is beaten in the lay-up line," the coach said.

Not me. But why do you ask?

"Because Wisconsin never wins the lay-up line. They're not going to make you ooh and ahh warming up. You're going to watch them move around and say they don't belong in this game."

Could be. If we're lining up a pick-up game, I'm picking four Kentucky guys before I take anybody from Wisconsin. Maybe five. Aren't you?

"You could say the same thing when Wisconsin played Michigan State. Or Florida. Or Arizona. How'd Wisconsin do in those games?"

Won three, lost one. Why?

"Wisconsin has guys who can shoot and make the three-point shot from five different positions. Kentucky has never seen a team like that."


"Really. There aren't any."

What's the big deal about that?

"Because what Bo Ryan wants you to do is over-help and double team somebody. Once you do that, that's when they swing the ball and look for the open threes."

How many three-pointers does Wisconsin have to make?

"At least eight. Most coaches will tell you that the magic number is eight. If they make eight three-pointers, you're going to have trouble with them."

How do they get open threes?

"By making Kentucky play defense. Is Kentucky ready to play defense for 28 to 33 seconds? Because that's what Wisconsin wants. If Kentucky starts getting bored on defensive possessions, that's when Wisconsin will hurt them."

Timeout, coach. Wisconsin has to defend Kentucky, too. They have to keep the Wildcats from getting three or four shots on critical offensive possessions, the way Kentucky did against Louisville and Michigan.

"I'm happy to see you paid attention."

Wisconsin has one other major problem.

"Let me guess: Matching up with Julius Randle in the post."

How'd you know I was going to say that?

"Everybody says that – because it's true. That will be the most important thing to watch when Kentucky has the ball. How does Wisconsin guard Randle?"

What are their choices?

"Prayer. Presidential executive order. Do you believe in miracles?"

So you're saying it's a problem?

"In a perfect world, the best strategy is to deny Randle the ball. Play in front of him. Do everything they can to deny his touches."

LeBron James could deny Randle's touches. Sam Dekker, the Wisconsin player most likely to draw the task of guarding Randle, cannot.

"Right. So that means Bo Ryan has to decide how he wants to double team Randle."

I thought Michigan coach John Beilein had the best-double team plan. Michigan tried to make certain that whenever Randle caught the ball he was near the baseline. That's when the double-teams came. Randle had only one way to go – away from the basket.

"I'm getting worried about you. You're watching too much film. Michigan did do a solid job with Randle (he had 16 points, 11 rebounds). But Kentucky still won the game. "

Kentucky 69, Wisconsin 65.

"I say Wisconsin is more dangerous than you think," the coach said.

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