Your Xavier Musketeers are playing the Wisconsin Badgers tonight with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Xavier seems to make an annual trip there, and Wisconsin was runner-up last year, but only one team can advance tonight. To get you ready for the game, we talked to our good buddy, Curt Hogg, over at Bucky's 5th Quarter, the SB Nation Wisconsin blog to talk about this game. Let's see what he had to say.
1.) Your win against Pitt was an ugly game, but you got the win. Was Friday an anomaly, or is Wisconsin's 2016 hoops a bit ugly but effective?
The 1940s called. They went their final score back.
In terms of Wisconsin shooting 32.1 percent and both teams finishing with under .9 points per possession, that is somewhat of an anomaly. The Badgers two top scorers, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, went a combined 4-25 from the field. I wouldn’t expect that to happen again, and if it does, you can kiss Wisconsin goodbye.
The strength of this team is in its defense. Wisconsin has held 11 teams to its season low in scoring. So, at times, it might look “ugly”, but you have to work to get your points against these guys. Opponents’ three-point rate is 29.1 percent, which is good for 14th in the nation. The Badgers want you to take contested twos, like Pittsburgh did most of the night.
I expect a more aesthetically pleasing game Sunday.
2.) How are fans feeling about Greg Gard at this point? Death. Taxes. Greg Gard?
The fans love Greg Gard. He brings continuity from the Bo Ryan era along with some other impressive elements. The players love him. He seems to be making strong in-game tinkers here and there. So it’s natural that the fans support him, as well. When he was hired as head coach just under two weeks ago, there wasn’t one person I heard that wanted someone else.
3.) We all know about Nigel Hayes thanks to last year, so who is somebody that Xavier needs to watch out for on Sunday?
There’s a few ways I could go here, but I’m going to say Vitto Brown. He’s a 6’8” forward that can step out and knock down the three (40.5 percent) and plays tough post defense. He rarely played on last year’s National Championship runner-up team, but had developed into the X-Factor for this Badgers team.
4.) This game is in St. Louis, but the Kohl Center looks like a great basketball venue on tv. How great is it in person?
The Kohl Center is a great place. Of course, you can find Badgers fans with their complaints about this and that, but it’s one of the nicest Big Ten venues.
5.) Is there anything more ADORABLE then the Nigel Hayes' press conference last year?
Yes, but not much. Maybe pictures of baby ducklings. This year, he has already admitted his celebrity crush on stage without prompting at an NCAA Tournament presser. You never know what you’re going to get out of him at any presser.
6.) Score prediction?
I’ve done my fair share of watching Xavier over the season and, now, looking closely at it before the second round game. The Musketeers can play, and have so many ways of beating you. I think Wisconsin will limit its quantity of possession and three-point looks, rebound well and stay very competitive. After all, this is a Badgers team that won 11 of 12 and now 12 of 15 games.
A lot of it will come down to how the Badgers can shoot against Xavier’s zone. They’ve had nights where they don’t miss, and nights like Friday.
I’ll go with Xavier, 73-68.