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NCAA Tournament: Wisconsin Badgers vs Florida St, 3/20 at 9:55pm EST

ATLANTA - MARCH 14: Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots against Solomon Alabi #32 of the Florida State Seminoles during the semifinals of the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 14, 2009 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. From Getty Images.

Photo from

Time to step up and demonstrate who we are.


Preview and game thread inside...

It's finally here. The NCAA tournament and the Seminoles are making their first appearance in the big dance since the 1997-98 season. Led by Head Coach Steve Robinson, the Seminoles went 18-14 overall that year, going 6-10 in the ACC and 3-6 against the top 25. No player scored over 30 points in a game. But, the Noles, lead by Randell Jackson, Terrell Baker, LaMarr Greer and Corey Louis, made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament that year. It was a team composed of 4 seniors and 6 juniors. Clearly a different team than the one we see today. However, they were a big team, featuring Corey Louis at 6'9", Randell Jackon at 6'11, Kyle Muligan at 6'10" and Karim Shabazz at 7'2". Like a certain shot blocker we have grown to love, Shabazz was one of the top high school centers in the country and picked the Noles over two perenial basketball power houses: Villanova and Syracuse. Why do I mention all of this, aside from personal interest?I figure it will help you to inmpress your friends as you watch the game tonight. The real reason I bring it up is that the Noles were a 12 seed that year and pulled off the classic 5-12 upset only to lose in the second round to Valparaiso, the 13th seed. Let's hope that the Noles aren't included in this year's 5-12 upset discussion, however many doubters think we are the most likely 5-seed to go.

In my conference preview, I wrote this about the Noles:

This team is close to being one of the elite teams in the conference, but not this year. We have shown flashes of brilliance in the OOC schedule and demonstrated that we're not quite there. For examples of both, see our performance against the Pitt Panthers and the Northwestern Wildcats...I think we keep the likes of Duke, UNC and Clemson to some of their lowest scoring games of the year, but I don't think we have the offensive fire power to keep up.

The Basketball Prospectus has this to say about our team now:

Leonard Hamilton's oversized charges (fourth in effective height) play lockdown defense in the halfcourt, forcing opponents to the perimeter. They can be very sloppy at times, turning the ball over and giving up a lot of offensive boards, and they are not a strong offensive team, with a lack of shooting touch and a tendency to go one-on-one. Their wins over good teams were almost all close, and any wins they pick up this week will be the same.

Coach Hamilton had this to say about his team: "At the beginning of the year we knew we had potential. But when you have this many young players the X Factor is how are they going handle it emotionally, how are they going to handle pressure times in certain situations - big games, national TV, packed houses, road games? You never know how they're going to respond." Well...this team has responded. We haven't lost two games in a row all year. The only other team to do that in the ACC was UNC. Despite suffering through turnover blunders and, at times, a stagnant offense, the Noles responded to every challenge and didn't use their youth as an excuse. The team we have followed so closely this year is a completely different team than the one I wrote about in November or December or January.

Tonight, the Seminoles take on the Badgers from the University of Wisconsin. Last year the Badgers went 31-5 and 16-2 in the Big Ten, losing to Davidson in the Sweet 16. They had the best offense and defense in the Big Ten based on Points per Possession, 1.09 and 0.91 respectively. Despite only returning 65% of possible returning minutes, the Badgers have had another sucessful year. They finished 19-12 overall with a 10-8 record in the Big Ten, which is ranked as the 5th strongest conference by Ken Pomeroy. They finished 31st overall in the Pomeroy rankings with the 27th ranked offense and the 60th ranked defense.The Badgers did not finish in the top 25 in the AP poll, but finished 45th in the RPI with the #16 strength of schedule. After their excellent finish last year, there were high expectations for the Badgers, but after losing 6 straight games in the Big Ten, their time in the national spotlight faded.

Let's take a closer look at the Badger's numbers and how we match up with them.There are a few points that the analysts consistently mention about the Badgers: pace and defense. The Badgers play a Swing Offense which is a patient methodical offense that has been around for years. However, Bo Ryan has added his own flavor to the offense that incorporates elements of a Flex Offense and the UCLA offense. The flex offense is described as a patterned offense that is very effective against man defense as it relies on the flex cut which is the following: (From

Flex offense

The flex cut is demonstrated in Diagram C. Against a man offense it is easy to see how O4 would be open on the cut to the basket allowing for easy scoring opportunities. The UCLA system, on the other hand, is dependent on having a solid low post player that has excellent passing and shooting skills and runs out of an atypical 1-4 set, as demonstrated below: (Image from out the link for a detailed description of the offense)

So know that you know a little bit about those two offenses, let's look at Bo Ryan's offense and how it contributes to the Badger's pace. Unlike the the UCLA offense, Bo Ryan's Swing Offense (BRSO) sets up in a 4-1 set and utilizes the principles of a motion offense. Some say that this offense is not dependent on size and that all 5 players should be able to rotate at any position in the offense. It's goal, however, is to get the ball down low. The offense sets up in the following way:

This set up allows for excellent spacing around the perimeter and gives the option to play a three man game on the wing or allow for unique high screens/cuts. Like any motion offense, the offensive players must react to the defense and move constantly to obtain good looks at the basket. Know that you are familiar with the terms, watch this excellent clip that break downs an offensive series. Given the patience that this offense requires, Wisconsin rarely turns the ball over. You have to be disciplined to play in this system, so it's not surprising that the Badger's TO% is only 16.2 which is 5th best in the nation. So what is this "pace" that everyone is talking about: 59.9 possessions per 40 minutes of game play. For comparison sake, the Noles, who we all talk about as playing a controlled tempo based game, average 67 possessions per 40 minutes, a striking difference. However, I wonder what it would be like if the Noles' TO% was only 16.2?

Here are the Badger's numbers:

 Offense Defense
Raw Efficiency : 108.8 ( 52) 99.3 (120)
Adj Efficiency : 113.9 ( 27) 94.6 ( 60)

Effective FG% : 50.6 (108) 49.1 (161)
Turnover Pct. : 16.2 ( 5) 19.1 (244)
Off. Rebound% : 32.6 (181) 26.4 ( 5)
Free Throw Rate: 35.2 (202) 33.3 (103)

3-Point FG% : 36.9 ( 62) 32.3 ( 59)
2-Point FG% : 48.1 (162) 49.3 (230)
Free Throw Pct.: 72.4 ( 59) 71.5 (300)
Block Pct. : 7.0 ( 56) 7.8 (204)
Steal Pct. : 7.2 ( 5) 8.3 (277)

3PA/FGA : 34.6 (126) 30.5 ( 89)
A/FGM : 54.2 (162) 49.1 ( 45)

So what stands out on offense? TO%, Steal Pct, 3-pt FG%. Wisconsin is more than happy to move the ball for 30 seconds before taking a shot. They do not look to shoot early. They can get away with their patience because they shoot the ball relatively well, an eFG% of 50.6%. They also shoot an excellent 72.4% from the FT line. However, for an offense that is designed to generate fouls, they only have a FT Rate % of 35.2. The Noles are at 39%. The Badgers also shoot the ball particularly well from 3-point land, but they don't take that many 3-pointers. They take about 34% of their shots from deep, which is around the national average. I hate to burst their bubble but the Noles are extremely effective at defending in the paint and the mid-range jump shot, the ideal shots in the BRSO and do a nice job defending the three point shot. I am going to be interested to see how Wisconsin does against our defense.

The Big Ten has 3 of the top 10 defenses in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy, but the highest ranked offense is Wisconsin's at 27. The ACC on the other hand has 4 offenses in the top 25 and 3 defenses in the top 20 (12, 14 and 16). So, are the ACC's defenses slightly worse due to the higher offensive output? Time will tell. But we are the biggest defense that Wisconsin has seen all year. Wisconsin is not a huge team. Their average height is 76.9" and their effective height is +0.7". Our average height is 78.9" and our effective height is +5.1". Our ability to defend the midrange shot and to shut down the paint will cause Wisconsin problems. This is a different type of team than they are used to seeing.

The other point that the analysts continue to make is that Wisconsin's defense is outstanding. Well, it's good, one of the better teams in the country but it pales in comparison to our defense. They allow teams to shoot an eFG% of 49.1%. They don't generate turnovers and they don't defend the midrange shot well despite their pressure man to man defense. The Seminoles have done well against teams that don't create turnovers. We turn the ball over enough on our own without our opponents help. This plays directly in the our favor. If the Badgers aren't forcing turnovers and trying to generate points in the transition game, we have an excellent chance to win this game. Coach Hamilton, are you listening? Wisconsin allows you to score inside. Their opponents have scored 56.2% of their points from inside the 3-point line. Get the ball inside. We saw what happened when we regularly delivered the ball inside to Solomon Alabi at the end of the ACC Championship game: they fouled him on almost every possession.

Where the Badgers have the opportunity to take control of this game is on the defensive glass. They are one of the best teams in the country at preventing offensive rebounds. Our offensive rebounding has improved throughout the year, but I really think it is a vulnerability. We don't rebound the ball well on defense but Wisconsin is not one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. The rebounding may balance out.

Here are the Seminoles numbers for comparison sake:

 Offense Defense
Raw Efficiency : 100.6 (187) 94.7 ( 40)
Adj Efficiency : 106.2 ( 97) 88.8 ( 12)

Effective FG% : 49.2 (161) 44.5 ( 17)
Turnover Pct. : 22.8 (291) 22.3 ( 67)
Off. Rebound% : 35.3 ( 83) 35.4 (273)
Free Throw Rate: 39.2 ( 96) 36.1 (164)

3-Point FG% : 34.3 (152) 32.7 ( 79)
2-Point FG% : 48.1 (160) 42.0 ( 16)
Free Throw Pct.: 72.3 ( 64) 68.9 (171)
Block Pct. : 8.3 (133) 16.0 ( 6)
Steal Pct. : 10.3 (224) 11.9 ( 40)

3PA/FGA : 33.6 (153) 36.3 (283)
A/FGM : 52.1 (223) 47.7 ( 26)

In order to win this game, the Seminoles need to limit Wisconsin's eFG%. Force them into bad shots and do not let them penetrate the paint. I warn you, the first part of the game may be ugly as the Noles adjust to the Wisconsin offense. The strongest correlation that Wisconsin has to winning is their eFG% at +0.86. If they turn the ball over, they lose. The correlation coefficient is -0.50. The Badgers also lose if they don't get to the line. Guess what folks? The Noles defend shots extremely well and they force turnovers. In the 14 games that Wisconsin shot an eFG% of 50 or less, they lost 8 of those games. Two of those wins were against Iona and Idaho St. Be patient.

So what do the coaches think about the match up? Click here to find out.

Here are the likely line ups for the game and the box score from their last game:

Jon Leuer, F 29 4-9 1-2 2-3 1 4 4 0 0 1 1 11
Joe Krabbenhoft, G-F 31 1-3 0-1 2-2 2 10 0 2 1 0 2 4
Marcus Landry, F 31 4-9 0-1 1-2 0 4 0 1 1 2 4 9
Trevon Hughes, G 33 3-11 2-6 7-7 2 5 2 2 0 3 5 15
Jason Bohannon, G 37 4-13 3-9 2-2 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 13

Uche Echefu, F 14 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 2 0 0 1 3 2 0
Solomon Alabi, C 19 3-8 0-0 4-5 1 5 0 0 1 0 3 10
Derwin Kitchen, G 19 0-3 0-2 0-0 0 5 2 0 0 3 4 0
Toney Douglas, G 39 10-19 4-8 4-5 0 1 2 1 0 2 2 28
Chris Singleton, F 32 5-8 4-5 1-2 3 9 1 0 3 2 3 15

The name you need to know: Jon Leuer. He is a 6'10 Sophomore who wasn't predicted to do much in the pre-season as he had lmited playing time. He still only plays about 20 to 30 minutes a game but gets frequent touches and puts up the majority of the Badgers shots. However, his ORtg is only 102.3. Marcus Landry is also their big time player. A 6'7 Senior who rarely comes off the court, Landry shots early, often and well. He rarely turns the ball over and he can block shots in the paint. Trevon Hughes is the distributor of the ball. Bohannon and Krabbenhoft are their most efficient scorers. If anyone is going to toss up a three it's Bohannon.

Keys to Winning:

  • Get the ball inside. Feature Solomon Alabi.
  • Be patient on defense and challenge every shot.
  • Take care of the basketball. Wisconsin does not force turnovers. Don't beat yourself.
  • Play 40 minutes of basketball. Keep a consistent scoring pace. I do not want to see the stair case effect on the scoring graph.

This should be an excellent game and it is should be aired on CBS as it is the late game of the evening. Let's hope we're preparing for another game on Sunday.