The Wisconsin Badgers are heading to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2005, after they completely dismantled the Baylor Bears on Thursday night in a 69-52 victory.
Bo Ryan’s squad continued their stellar play, communicating on defense, making the extra pass on offense, and above all, taking smart shots.
When Steve Kerr said this is the best offense that Ryan’s had in years at Wisconsin he wasn’t exaggerating. The Badgers were unflappable with the ball, as they managed to shoot 52% from the field, 40% from three, and they turned the ball over an incredible 8 times. Whether the Bears were in their zone defense or playing man, there was no answer for 7-foot junior Frank Kaminsky who had 19 points on 8-11 shooting from the field. Kaminsky also recorded a career-best 6 blocks.
Wisconsin was in control of the game from the opening tip, finding themselves up 18-8 just past the 10-minute mark in the first half. Kaminsky got off to a great start, recording 10 points in the first 15 minutes of the game, and dominating Baylor big Isaiah Austin, who found himself on the bench in foul trouble towards the end of the first half.
The Badgers were impressively efficient on the offensive end, but they also did a great job stifling a Baylor team that put up 85 points against Creighton just a few days ago. Baylor shot a horrible 5-for-24 (20.8%) from the field in the first half, and despite doubling their first half scoring out put in the first 10 minutes of the second half, they finished the game shooting just 31% from the field.
It seemed that every time Baylor would put together a run – which is a relative term in this game – Wisconsin w0uld just come back stronger and make a bigger statement, like Kaminsky’s three-point play with 8:57 to go in the game to give Wisconsin a 54-34 lead, after Baylor scored back-t0-back baskets.
Awaiting the winner of the Arizona and San Diego State matchup, the Badgers will have to prepare to face stingier defenses than the ones they’ve faced so far in the tournament. But with the poise and diversity that they’ve shown on the offensive end, they look like they can beat anyone right now.