There are 32 games on Thursday and Friday, one of the most exciting 48-hour segments on the sports calendar.
We won’t be able to get individual previews up for every game, but we’ll cherry pick some of the more compelling matchups during the tournament’s “second” round.
In this post, we preview the East Region’s 4-13 matchup between Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers and the Montana Grizzlies.
Wisconsin-Montana Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana in East Region
- Wisconsin-Montana Date: Thursday, March 15th
- Wisconsin-Montana Tip Time: 2:10 ET
- Wisconsin-Montana Location: Albuquerque
- Wisconsin-Montana TV: TNT
- Wisconsin-Montana Announcers: Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzel
- Wisconsin-Montana Point Spread: Wisconsin -9.5
- Tickets: Wisconsin-Montana Tickets
- Tickets: All Albuquerque Sessions
- Tickets: East Regional Tickets in Boston
Wisconsin-Montana Analysis and Prediction
The Grizzlies come in red hot after winning 20 of their last 21 games, and I think they match up well with Wisconsin.
Guard Will Cherry is a tough defender and would be able to pressure Jordan Taylor, while both teams have big men who can step outside and make shots in Derek Selvig and Jared Berggren.
Montana has been very prolific from long range with three players shooting at least 40 percent from deep, including talented sophomore Kareem Jamar. The key to the game will be Wisconsin’s three-point shooting, because they become very beatable when their three-pointers aren’t falling. The Grizzlies have a decent field goal percentage defense, and Wisconsin’s willingness to settle for three-pointers makes it unlikely that Montana will get into foul trouble, which would be huge given a very short bench.
In a matchup that should be played at a relatively slow pace, I think at minimum it’s a close game.
Predicted Winner: Montana
Wisconsin Badgers Team Capsule
- Conference: Big Ten
- Record: 24-9 (12-6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 6-4
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 6-7
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: BYU, Indiana (2), Ohio State, Purdue, UNLV
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State (3), North Carolina, Ohio State
- Player to Watch: Jordan Taylor (G, Sr.) – 14.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.0
Wisconsin Badgers Bottoms Line:
As has become customary, the Badgers are among the most efficient teams on the defensive end. They rank in the Top 10 in both two- and three-point defense and in the Top 50 in defensive rebounding percentage and opponents’ free throw rate.
The team has struggled on offense at times, because they are very reliant on the three-point shot. The Badgers take just over 40 percent of their shots from long range, but the common theme in most of their losses has been poor three-point shooting. With a low offensive rebounding percentage and a poor free throw rate, there really isn’t a plan B when shots aren’t falling.
Despite leading the team in scoring and assists, Jordan Taylor’s season has been somewhat of a disappointment. His shooting has dropped off, and the lack of a consistent offensive threat like Jon Leuer has made it difficult for him to find room to operate. Still, his assist and turnover rates are impressive, and he has continued to find ways to get to the free throw line.
Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren both average better than 10 points and five rebounds, with Evans particularly effective on the defensive glass and Berggren able to step outside and hit threes. Josh Gasser and Ben Brust are capable long-range shooters as well, and Mike Bruesewitz has struggled with his shot but still helps out on the glass.
As usual, the Badgers are content to slow the game down and limit the number of possessions, so don’t expect them to light up the scoreboard anytime soon.
Montana Grizzlies Team Capsule
- Conference: Big Sky
- Record: 25-6 (15-1 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 10-0
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 1-1
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Long Beach State
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Colorado State
- Player to Watch: Kareem Jamar (6’5″ G/F, So.) – 13.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.7 apg, 44.5 3P%
Montana Grizzlies Bottoms Line:
The Grizzlies started the season just 5-5 with losses to North Dakota and San Francisco, but they finished the season by winning 20 of their final 21 contests. Montana is in the Top 50 in adjusted defensive efficiency, and outside of a poor offensive rebounding percentage, the Grizzlies boast an efficient offense as well.
Sharpshooter Kareem Jamar hit five three-pointers in the conference championship game, and he’s one of many talented gunners on a team that hits over 38 percent from deep. Guard Will Cherry leads the team in scoring and has one of the best steal percentages in the nation. Junior forward Mathias Ward has a solid overall offensive rating, while seven-footer Derek Selvig leads the team in rebounding with 6.1 boards per game but takes over 40 percent of his shots from three-point range.
Montana plays essentially a six-man rotation, so foul trouble would be a huge issue.
Related: Jump to our East Region Bracket Breakdown.
See our other individual game previews and predictions:
- South Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State
- South Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU
- South Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado
- South Region: #7 Notre Dame v #10 Xavier
- South Region: #8 Iowa State v #9 Connecticut
- West Region: #4 Louisville v #13 Davidson
- West Region: #5 New Mexico v #12 Long Beach State
- West Region: #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State
- West Region: #7 Florida v #10 Virginia
- West Region: #8 Memphis v #9 Saint Louis
- East Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana
- East Region: #5 Vanderbilt v #12 Harvard
- East Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas
- East Region: #7 Gonzaga v #10 West Virginia
- East Region: #8 Kansas State v #9 Southern Miss
- Midwest Region: #3 Georgetown v #14 Belmont
- Midwest Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio
- Midwest Region: #5 Temple v #12 Cal/USF
- Midwest Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State
- Midwest Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue
- Midwest Region: #8 Creighton v #9 Alabama