Preview: American vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin landed a No. 2 seed for only the second time in school history and begins its NCAA tournament voyage close to home when it faces 15th-seeded American University in the West Regional in Milwaukee. The Badgers are part of the tourney field for the 16th consecutive season and are hoping to make some noise behind a high-powered offense, a sharp difference than some of their recent plodding teams. American is in the tourney for the third time in school history.
The Eagles upended top-seeded Boston University in the Patriot League championship game to make the field for the first time since 2009 and rely on four double-digit scorers. American allows just 58.6 points per game as it attempts to slow a Wisconsin offense that averages 73.5 points and scored 70 or more on 23 occasions. The Badgers won at least one contest in six consecutive NCAA tournaments before being one-and-done last season with a loss to Mississippi.
TV: 11:40 a.m., truTV
About Wisconsin (26-7)
The Badgers have a battled-tested starting five and the attack was bolstered by the emergence of freshman forward Nigel Hayes (eight points per game) as the Big Ten's Sixth Man of the Year. Center Frank Kaminsky averages 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds and is joined in the starting lineup by guard Ben Brust (12.9 points, team-high 81 3-pointers), forward Sam Dekker (12.7 points, 6.2 rebounds), point guard Traevon Jackson (10.4 points, 3.9 assists) and guard Josh Gasser (9.2) points. Wisconsin can shoot from outside (7.8 3-pointers per game) and six players have more than 20 steals on the defensive end.
About American (20-12)
The Eagles started 3-7 against a light schedule — Ohio State was the lone power conference team they played this season — before finishing second in the Patriot League regular season and routing Boston University 55-36 to land the NCAA berth. Center Tony Wroblicky (12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds) was the league's Defensive Player of the Year and had 61 blocked shots and the supporting cast includes guards Jesse Reed (13.9), Darius Gardner (11.5 points, 4.2 assists) and John Schoof (11.4 points, team-best 68 3-pointers). American finished strong with five victories in its last six games.
1. Wisconsin is 16-12 in the NCAA tournament under Ryan.
2. The winner of this contest will face seventh-seeded Oregon or 10th-seeded Brigham Young on Saturday.
3. American lost to Tennessee (72-57 in 2008) and Villanova (80-67 in 2009) in its previous NCAA tournament appearances.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 84, American 63