UNC Basketball: Q&A with Badger of Honor site expert

Mar 7, 2021; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard talks with guard Trevor Anderson (12) and guard Brad Davison (left) and forward Micah Potter (11) late in the game during the second half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2021; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard talks with guard Trevor Anderson (12) and guard Brad Davison (left) and forward Micah Potter (11) late in the game during the second half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

The UNC basketball program is set to take on the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64 on Friday night, so we caught up with the folks over at Badger of Honor to find out everything we need to know ahead of the game.

Keeping It Heel chatted with Badger of Honor site expert Christian Borman about the Tar Heels’ upcoming Round of 64 game with the Wisconsin Badgers. He gave us some insight into what UNC fans can expect to see from the Badgers on Friday night, what lesser-known player might be Wisconsin’s x-factor and his prediction for the game. Take a look!

KIH: Tell me a little bit about the Badgers’ season. What stood out to you most? 

BOH: Like North Carolina, the Badgers were up and down a lot of the season. The expectations for this team were pretty high, considering how experienced they were. They started off very well, and were ranked as high as No. 4 in the country. Their non-conference schedule wasn’t the strongest after their game with Tennessee was canceled, so it was hard to tell how good they really were heading into conference play. Obviously, the Big Ten is a very good conference, but the Badgers didn’t beat any of the teams that finished ahead of them. They were pretty much the definition of a good, but not great team. They beat who they should beat for the most part, but couldn’t beat teams that were better than them.

What really stood out to me was the team’s inability to score consistently. It felt like they would have 5-plus minute scoring droughts almost every game. Their defense is what kept them in most games, but the lack of scoring kept the Badgers from beating teams like Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio State.

KIH: Wisconsin lost nine of its last 14 games this season, and hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record in nearly two months. Does their inability to beat above-average competition concern you going into the NCAA Tournament?

BOH: It absolutely does. They have the ability to keep games close with above-average to good teams, but they just don’t have the offense to take over at the end of a game. This team isn’t built to come from behind, and if they don’t get off to a fast start offensively, they could very well be one-and-done.

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KIH: Wisconsin takes really good care of the basketball, turning it over less than nine times per game. The Badgers are also a really good three-point shooting team, and knock down a good percentage of their free throws. Outside of those things, what is the team’s greatest strength? And are there any glaring weaknesses?

BOH: I would say that for the most part, they play pretty sound defense. Since Bo Ryan, the Badgers have always tried to control the pace and slow things down, which can often slow down opponents on offense as well. Their defense really keeps them in most of their games when they go on a scoring drought, which happens more than it should for a top 25 team.

Ironically, a weakness for this team would be rebounding and post defense.

KIH: The Badgers only have two players in the regular rotation over 6-feet-9-inches tall, 6-foot-10-inch Micah Potter, and 6-foot-11-inch Nate Reuvers. Does that concern you at all when they’re facing a team with as much size as the Tar Heels, a team that’s ranked first in the nation in offensive rebounding?

BOH: It does, especially with how much Reuvers and Potter have struggled getting rebounds. In a game against Michigan this season, the two combined for zero rebounds the entire game. The Badgers give up almost 9 offensive rebounds per game, which is a recipe for disaster knowing North Carolina is the top offensive rebounding team in the country.

UNC Basketball
Mar 11, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions forward Trent Buttrick (15) defends as Wisconsin Badgers forward Micah Potter (11) drives to the basket in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

KIH: Is there a player that we might not be as familiar with that could be the X-factor in the teams’ Round of 64 matchup?

BOH: Everyone likes to talk about how old and experienced the Badgers are, but a player people outside of the Big Ten may not know a lot about yet is freshman Jonathan Davis. Davis is a true freshman who comes off of the bench, but is almost always in the game at crunch time. He doesn’t put up big numbers, but he always seems to be around the ball. He is most likely going to be ‘the guy’ at Wisconsin next year and beyond.

KIH: The Badgers are a much stingier team defensively than the Tar Heels. Do you think they’ll set the tone for this game, or will the Tar Heels be able to speed them up?

BOH: The Badgers are almost always able to control the pace of the game. They take their time on offense and work for a good shot, often not even shooting until the shot clock is under 10 seconds. That can tend to frustrate opposing teams. They have given up more than 78 points just once this season, and that was when they gave up 50 in the second half to Penn State. They’ve slowed down teams like Illinois and Iowa, who have some serious offensive firepower. I have a hard time seeing North Carolina really speeding them up.

KIH: Prediction time: who do you think wins this game, and why?

BOH: I think this game will really come down to rebounds and second-chance points. If the Badgers can limit them, I think their defense and pace of play will be really difficult for North Carolina to overcome. In their last four games, the Badgers have allowed 9.5 offensive rebounds per game, including 12 to Iowa in their last game.

I think the Badgers will go into this game with an emphasis on boxing out and make North Carolina beat them by making outside shots, rather than inside. I think Wisconsin wins in a low-scoring game where there isn’t much separation throughout. 

Next. ESPN's Jay Bilas picks against the Tar Heels. dark

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