We’ve had some weird officiating in the tournament so far, but the ending to the overtime game between Wisconsin and Arizona, sending the Badgers and Bo Ryan to the Final Four after a 64-63 win, left some bad taste in people’s mouths. Yes, we had a huge night from Frank Kaminsky, but also some weird calls on the Nick Johnson charge late in the game.
Points of controversy? Nick Johnson being called for a charge that seemed to send Wisconsin players celebrating with four seconds left in the game. How was that a charging foul exactly? Quite unsure. The next play, Arizona do an excellent job of preventing an easy inbound pass for Wisconsin. The ball goes out of bounds, no one is quite sure who touched it last. The officials take too long of a time to decide what went down, but eventually give the ball to Arizona. However, Johnson doesn’t get off a shot in time, and Wisconsin win the game. The official didn’t give them the win, but the whole finish shouldn’t have been decided that way.
It is the first Final Four trip for Wisconsin since 2000, a bit before Bo Ryan arrived. The head coach had an emotional interview at the end of the game about his father, and it was hard not to feel happy for him for finally making it after so many successful years with the Badgers, until it comes to the tournament itself.
Kaminsky continues to be the hero for Wisconsin in this tournament. Arizona have an excellent defense and were able to make life very difficult for the Badgers, but not Kaminsky. One of the more surprising heroes in this tournament finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds as his low post moves and ability to create second chance shots was something that the Wildcats didn’t seem to plan for, or at least not be able to stop it. He added the jump shot to his arsenal this time, hitting 6-of-12 on such shots.
The other big key was stopping Aaron Gordon. Wisconsin can keep teams to low shooting percentages, but holding off a guy who is close to unstoppable in the paint is a different thing, and the Badgers did an excellent job at it. Gordon grabbed 18 rebounds, six coming on offense. However, he finished with only 12 points on 3-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-9 in the paint after shooting 76% from close range in the tournament. He started the game at 0-of-7 from the field, and didn’t really get hot enough for long enough to push Arizona through to the Final Four.
On paper it seemed like Arizona had a bit more individual talent going into this game but came up short in a number of plays on defense. Offense was always going to be ugly in this one, and it came down to making just one more play for both teams. Seam Miller’s history of taking his team to the Elite Eight but falling there continues, only this time it was as a number one seed. Bo Ryan has finally beaten a number one team on his way to the Final Four, and has a team that finds an unlikely star carrying them forward, with a defense that will be a big problem for anyone they face.