Milwaukee, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - With a strong fan contingent following them down from Madison, the Wisconsin Badgers will again have the crowd on their side as they clash with the Oregon Ducks in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at the Bradley Center.
The second-seeded Badgers, currently ranked 12th in the nation, finished second in the Big Ten Conference standings at 12-6 during the regular season. The team was set up against American University in their first game in the West Regional and demolished the Eagles on Thursday in a lopsided 75-35 final.
With the win two days ago, Wisconsin is now 26-18 in this event over the years, having won it all way back in 1941.
While the Badgers have now gone more than seven decades without hoisting the trophy from this tournament, the seventh-seeded Ducks have been dealing with an even longer drought, having won the championship in its very first year back in 1939.
But back to the present for an Oregon group that is now 15-10 in the tournament all-time, thanks to an 87-68 victory over BYU in the first game of the event two days ago.
In terms of the all-time series between these programs, Wisconsin holds a slim 3-2 edge over the Ducks, with the most recent meeting taking place in Eugene back in 1990 when the Badgers captured a 72-70 triumph.
The winner of this meeting will show up in the Sweet 16 next week to face the survivor of the Baylor/Creighton contest in Anaheim, California.
The Ducks took advantage of the fact that BYU was playing without one of its top players, running away with the 19-point win on Thursday. The Oregon defense was all over the Cougars in the first half, holding them to just 28.1 percent shooting from the floor and 2-of-11 behind the 3-point line. After 40 minutes of action, BYU was found to have hit on only 32.8 percent from the floor, compared to an even 50 percent for the Ducks as they cruised to the win.
Elgin Cook gave Oregon a huge lift off the bench as he tallied 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds in just 23 minutes of action, followed by Joseph Young with 19 points, the only starter to reach double figures for the Ducks. Jason Calliste connected on 11-of-12 at the free-throw line in order to come away with 14 points in a reserve role.
Cook's input on Thursday was nothing short of amazing, given that he is averaging only 6.8 ppg and is playing under 17 minutes per outing. At the top of the scoring list is still Young with his 18.6 ppg, followed by Mike Moser (13.3 ppg) and Calliste (12.5 ppg), as the trio has combined to hit 190 3- pointers this season.
As the Badgers proved quite often during the regular season, defense was their first priority against American as they registered the most lopsided win in their NCAA Tournament history, limiting the Eagles to a mere 35 points. It was a total train wreck for American as the team shot just 3-of-19 from the floor in the second half, posting a mere 13 points in the frame, while suffering more turnovers (17) than field goals (11) for the entire meeting.
At the other end of the floor, Traevon Jackson paced Wisconsin with 18 points, followed by Ben Brust with 17, which means anything beyond those two was enough to bring home the win. Sam Dekker contributed another 11 points and six rebounds to the cause.
Thanks to the effort in the first game of the tourney, Wisconsin is now giving up only 63.7 ppg and is opening up the offense even more, producing 73.6 ppg. Frank Kaminsky (13.4 ppg) and Brust (13.0 ppg) lead the charge, the former pulling down a team-best 6.3 rpg and the latter taking advantage of clean looks out on the perimeter in order to connect on 85 3-pointers.