Wisconsin Scouting Report: Kaminsky’s Versatility


The Wisconsin Badgers enter the Sweet Sixteen 33-3 (16-2 Big 10) and as the number one seed in the West Region.  According to ESPN’s BPI, the Badgers have a 76.0% chance of beating North Carolina.

What makes this matchup so intriguing stems from the teams’ different paces of play and rebounding strengths.

Although as the game has evolved Bo Ryan’s traditional, slow-paced strategy has become less and less extreme, the Badgers are still going to be one of the slowest teams North Carolina has played all year.  Wisconsin is averaging 71.9 points per game (67th in the nation) with only allowing 56.8 points per game (9th in the nation).

The Badgers are also one of the most efficient defensive rebounding teams the Tar Heels have faced all year.  While they may not collect many on average in comparison to the rest of the field remaining, their total is slightly skewed due to their reduced amount of possessions they allow their opponents per game.  The Tar Heels thrive on the offensive glass, so Wisconsin’s ability to limit teams to one shot per possession will be an interesting storyline to follow throughout the game.

According to Bo Ryan via ESPN.com, North Carolina’s size is what makes the Heels formidable.

"There are some of us where if you take out a big it’s devastating.  I know it hurts; I know it affects chemistry.  I understand that.  But they have enough fire power, defensive power, and rebounding power to have some guys fill in there."

Individually, Wisconsin poses great matchup problems for the powerful Tar Heels.  And it all begins with their 7’0″ versatile center Frank Kaminsky.

Mar 22, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) celebrates after making a basket against the Oregon Ducks during the second half in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Kaminsky leads the Badgers in rebounding and scoring averaging 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds a game.  His impact on the team can also be seen in the amount of time he’s on the floor, as he leads the team in minutes per game (33.1).

He will be able to stretch out this North Carolina team with his ability to shoot from the outside.  Notre Dame’s ability to stretch North Carolina made it very difficult for North Carolina to not only defend the three-point line but also defensive rebound.  And while he is just one player, Kaminsky presents a problem for the Heels that is impossible to prepare for.  Don’t tell that to Jackson Simmons, of course.

According to Andrew Carter in the article above, the Heels see Kaminsky as a mix of two of the best big men they have faced all year.

"“I guess he can be a mix of Jahlil down low and Portis from the outside, if you want to say that” Hicks said, comparing Kaminsky to Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, the ACC Player of the Year, and Arkansas’ Bobby Portis, the SEC Player of the Year. “Because Portis was stepping out, shooting a couple of threes. Driving and all that, and Jahlil – he just scores inside at will.“So you can probably mix them two, you get Frank right there.”"

The Heels should also be mindful of Sam Dekker.

Mar 22, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Sam Dekker (15) reacts after making a three-point basket against the Oregon Ducks during the second half in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The 6’9″ forward averages 13.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.  Not only does he bring energy and shooting from the outside, he is also arguably the most athletic player on this Badger team.

More from North Carolina Tar Heels

If he can compliment Kaminsky in both stretching the defense out and finishing down low, the Heels will have their hands full all game.

Against Arkansas, the Heels counteracted issues defensively on the inside by committing fouls.  And while their depth in the frontcourt allowed them to get away with it in the round of 32, the questionable status of Kennedy Meeks will make it even harder for the Heels to manage both the leader and x-factor of this Wisconsin team.

Other players to watch out for:

  1. Nigel Hayes: 32.9 mpg (2nd on team), 12.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg
  2. Traevon Jackson:  only played in 17 games this year, 9.4 ppg, 1.1 spg (leads team)
  3. Bronson Koenig:  32.7 mpg (3rd on team), 8.6 ppg, .410 3P% (2nd on team)

Statistics above were found here.

Both teams have plenty to worry about.  But just remember, if college basketball was based on a team’s BPI, this time of the year wouldn’t be considered March Madness.