Preview: AU's 'Pee Wee' key versus No. 2 Wisconsin

Preview: AU's 'Pee Wee' key versus No. 2 Wisconsin
March 19, 2014, 9:30 pm
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Matchup: No. 15 American (20-12, 13-5; Patriot League) vs. Wisconsin (26-7, 12-6; Big 10)

What: NCAA Tournament, Round of 64

When: Thursday, 12:50 p.m.

Where: Milwaukee

Broadcast: TruTV

Streaks: The Eagles, who opened conference play 10-0, won three straight in the PL Tournament including 55-36 in the championship at Boston University. The Badgers dropped two of their last three, falling to Michigan State in the Big 10 Tournament, after winning eight straight.

History: American is making its 3rd appearance in program history, first since 2009. Wisconsin has reached the NCAA’s 15 straight seasons and 19 overall. 

KenPom: American 95, Wisconsin 13

RPI: American 115, Wisconsin 6

Coaches: American – Mike Brennan, Wisconsin – Bo Ryan

Leaders: Eagles - Scoring (Jesse Reed, 13.9), Rebounding (Tony Wroblicky, 7.3), Assists (Darius Gardner, 4.2); Badgers - Scoring (Frank Kaminsky, 13.6), Rebounding (Kaminsky, 6.4), Assists (Traveon Jackson, 3.9)

Links: American's NCAA Tournament profile 

Badgers: I covered the Eagles' situation in the profile just above so the goal here is to take a look at Wisconsin, a team with with victories over Florida, Michigan and Michigan state this season. As luck would have it, today I ran into my guy Rob Dauster from NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk. After a round of “what’s up,” I sat Rob down to get his take on the Round of 64 opponents for the local programs, including the typically deliberate Badgers. 

* Not your father’s Badgers: “In the past, every single possession Bo Ryan would want to take 30 seconds off the clock and get a shot with five seconds left. This year they’re fast breaking more. If they get stuck in a half court set, they’re still going to run the clock, typical Wisconsin. But when they get a rebound, they’re looking for the break, looking for an outlet pass. They have a lot of guards, they have a lot of athletic scorers including Sam Dekker.” [CSN- The Eagles love deliberate so the goal will be to avoid any sign of up-tempo in the game. AU ranks seventh nationally in scoring defense, allowing 58.6 points]

* Player to watch: Frank Kaminsky, 7-foot-0, center. “(Kaminsky) might be the best all-around [big man] scorer. He can step back and knock down a three. He scores with his back to the basket, he can take guys off the dribble. He’s one of the more difficult matchups there is." [CSN - This will be the matchup for the 6-foot-10 Wroblicky, American’s center and Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. Wroblicky is essentially AU’s lone interior option so he’ll need to guard Kaminsky without getting into foul trouble]. 

* Weakness: “What gets Wisconsin more than anything is guards who can get to the basket off the dribble. They’re not great perimeter defenders. They don’t have a lot of size so if you can get guys who can slash to the rim, that what you do against them." [CSN - This sounds like a job for “Pee Wee” Gardner, AU’s 5-foot-9 mighty mite point guard. In a previous meeting this season with a Big 10 program, Gardner had 10 points, five assists and only one turnover while playing all 40 minutes in a 63-53 loss at Ohio State on Nov 20.]