March Madness: Predicting how far Wisconsin will go in the NCAA Tournament
Wisconsin will go into the NCAA Tournament as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region for a matchup with the No. 14 seed Colgate Raiders, and fans have to be thrilled with the location of the Badgers’ first 2 games in addition to the potential matchups that lie ahead.
Wisconsin suffered an early exit in the B1G Tournament with a loss to Michigan State in the quarterfinal round, but that likely did not have much of an impact on its standing in the big dance. The Badgers will play their first- and second-round matchups in Milwaukee, which is a much more important factor than whether they would be a No. 2 or No. 3 seed.
Even more important than that, Johnny Davis is healthy. His status was a major concern when he left the regular season finale against Nebraska and never returned, but he was back for the conference tournament. Davis did not seem all that limited but did not play well, shooting 3-for-19 from the floor, so hopefully the extra few days of rest will get him going again, because he has the talent to carry the Badgers on a tournament run.
The Badgers will wait till late on Friday night take the floor in the first-round matchup with the tip set for 9:50 p.m. ET.
Colgate scouting report
I’m going to guess you haven’t watched a ton of Colgate basketball this season, so here’s a look at what the Badgers will be going up against on Friday night.
The Raiders did not get off to a very good start to this season with a 4-10 record out of the gate, but they responded by winning 19 of their final 20 games and will head into the NCAA Tournament with 15 consecutive victories, capped off by a dominant run though the Patriot League Tournament to secure the conference’s automatic bid.
Offense is the strength of Colgate. If analytics are your thing, the Raiders rate No. 79 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, while the defense checks in at No. 203.
Teams that shoot the 3-ball well put themselves in good position to pull off an upset, and Colgate has been about as good as it gets from deep. There is no secret to what the Raiders want to do with tons of sharp shooters down the roster, and they rank No. 2 nationally in 3-point percentage and No. 7 in 3-pointers made.
If Wisconsin does not defend the 3 well, it could be in for an early NCAA Tournament exit, especially considering the Badgers’ struggles in that area offensively. Wisconsin has the worst 3-point shooting percentage in the B1G, and it barely ranks inside the top 300 nationally.
Wisconsin has lived life on the edge all season long with 15 of its victories coming by 6 points or less, so why would this one be any different? The Badgers are favored by roughly 7.5 points depending on where you look, which is by far the lowest point spread among the No. 3 vs. No. 14 matchups.
The final score will finish closer than that and come down to the final minutes, which is where Wisconsin has been at its best. That’s when Davis takes over and proves he’s by far the best player on the floor on Friday night as the Badgers pull away for a 68-64 victory to advance to Round 2.
If Wisconsin gets past Colgate, the second-round matchup will be either No. 6 seed LSU or No. 11 seed Iowa State, which is a pretty good situation for Wisconsin. The Tigers and Cyclones both have incredible defenses but struggle o the offensive end. The Cyclones finished just 2-22 last season and put together an incredible turnaround, and the Tigers fired head coach Will Wade on Saturday.
I’ve got Wisconsin returning to the Sweet 16 with a win over LSU for a matchup with the No. 2 seed Auburn Tigers, which is where the Badgers’ run will come to an end in Chicago. Hopefully, we’ll get to see these two teams play with the potential matchup between Davis and Jabari Smith — both of whom will be selected high in the next NBA Draft.
Where Wisconsin goes from here is anybody’s guess and given what we’ve seen from the Badgers throughout the season, there are no guarantees. The Badgers far exceeded anyone’s expectations several months after a preseason projection that said they were the 10th best team in the B1G. Instead of being on the outside looking in as many expected, Wisconsin is one of the top teams in its region with plenty of potential NCAA Tournament games close to home.