Today at 12:40pm ET, Wisconsin will begin its bid to get Bo Ryan that elusive Final Four appearance with a matchup against American. This one will be played in Milwaukee, so the crowd figures to include a heavy contingent of Badger faithful. That will help, but this is a game where Wisconsin doesn’t figure to need much of a boost.
American is here by virtue of winning the Patriot League tournament, and this is not a battle-tested squad. The Eagles have played only three games all season against top 100 KenPom teams, and those were all before Christmas (including an 11-point loss at Ohio State). American’s best win of a the season, by far, came in its last game, going on the road to knock off Boston University for the auto bid. To say that the Eagles are moving up a level in competition would be an understatement.
That said, American does have a solid defense, the likes of which you wouldn’t expect from the Patriot League. The Eagles do a good job of limiting open threes, and conference opponents shot just 44 percent on twos. Much of the latter quality is owed to center Tony Wroblicky, one of the nation’s better shot blockers. The 6-10 senior is a do-everything player for American, as he’s a fantastic rebounder, a good interior scorer, and a plus passer. Wroblicky is a great matchup for Frank Kaminsky.
Still, I don’t expect Wisconsin to have any trouble in this one. The Eagles have a really weird offense, in that they are really good at shooting but really bad at everything else. They might go out and rain a bunch of threes, but they’ll turn it over so much that it won’t matter.
I’m taking the Badgers by double digits.