2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: No. 2 Wisconsin vs No. 8 Kentucky

The No. 8 seeded team in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the Kentucky Wildcats, took on the No. 2 seeded Michigan Wolverines in the Elite Eight with a trip to Arlington and the Final Four on the line. Michigan started out hot, as the Wolverines continued to rely on the three ball to get things done, but fell short due to the Wildcats’ far superior rebounding ability and the renewed focus of this Kentucky team.

There may not be a team in college basketball flying higher than Kentucky right now, but the Wildcats must be on their guard, because their next opponents in the Final Four, the No. 2 seeded Wisconsin Badgers, will be no easy task.

Wisconsin is coming off of an overtime win over the No. 1 seeded Arizona Wildcats behind a fantastic defense performance and the play of Frank Kaminsky. Arizona is an extremely talented team, but Kentucky is a lot more athletic. The Badgers will have to be on their A-game to slow down the offense of the preseason No. 1 team in the country.

What to Watch For:

Kentucky is fifth in the country in rebounds per game, whereas Wisconsin is 261st. Kaminsky and Sam Dekker are going to have to have the game of their lives inside to stop the Wildcats from getting almost every board. Julius Randle is going to score frequently against Wisconsin, so the Badgers’ defense must focus on stopping the outside players like James Young, Andrew and Aaron Harrison.

I’m not one to look at a match-up based on numbers alone, but the only number that really stands out for the Badgers is their points allowed per game, which is just five less than Kentucky’s. Both the Wildcats and the Badgers are elite college basketball defenses, and this game could come down to the free throw line. Composure will be key for both teams in this crucial Final Four match-up.

Prediction:

Wisconsin is one of the best defensive teams in the country, but their defense is no match for the overwhelming talent and athleticism of Kentucky. The Wildcats biggest problem all season long has been turnovers, and they’ve averaged just around 12 per game in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have played three straight games down to the wire, whereas Wisconsin’s only challenge was against the Arizona Wildcats. Like all of Kentucky’s other games, expect a tight one that the Wildcats pull away from at the end.

Kentucky 66, Wisconsin 60

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