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Big Ten in NCAA Basketball Elite Eight Preview: Wisconsin should beat Arizona

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The Wisconsin Badgers have won their NCAA tournament games by a margin of 22 points, but they’ll have to be sharp to beat the Arizona Wildcats tonight.

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This West region final features two teams that are desperate to make the Final Four for their coach. Neither Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan nor Arizona coach Sean Miller has made it past the Elite Eight, though they have a combined total of 952 career wins.

The Badgers (29-7) are the No. 2 seed in the West region and beat Baylor, 69-52, in the semifinal game Thursday to earn their place in the regional final.

Arizona’s biggest concern must be containing Wisconsin’s leader scorer, junior forward Frank Kaminsky. He averaged 13.6 points per game (PPG) during the regular season, but has scored 46 points in three tournament games.

Unfortunately, if you pay too much attention to Kaminsky, the Badgers can turn to senior guard Ben Brust and junior guard Traevon Jackson who are scoring 14.3 and 13.7 PPG, respectively, during the tournament. Add sophomore forward Sam Decker, who averages 10 points a game, and you can understand why Wisconsin is scoring over 76 points per game in the tournament.

Arizona (33-4) was the No. 1-rated team for eight weeks and rolled off 21 straight wins during the season. They are led by junior guard Nick Johnson who has a 16.3 PPG average.

The Wildcats also spread the wealth in scoring among seven players who average between 21 and 33 minutes of playing time per game. Freshman forward Aaron Gordon and forward Brandon Ashley score at a 12.5 and 11.5 PPG pace, respectively.

I don’t think the Wlldcats’ long bench can slow down Kaminsky and the Badgers, so look for a 70-64 Wisconsin win in the West regional final tonight.

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