Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin: 12:30 p.m. at Imperial Arena (Paradise Island, Bahamas)
Commentary: Jon Sciambi and Dan Dakich
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa)
Line: Wisconsin -5.5
About the Badgers
- Wisconsin is 4-0 with wins over Coppin State, Xavier, Houston Baptist and Stanford. The most recent win against the Cardinal came in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Badgers prevailed by a score of 62-46.
- The Badgers are No. 14 in the KenPom rankings entering Thursday’s game. They also ranking the top 20 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency.
- The Sooners have faced Wisconsin on nine previous occasions, with the Badgers holding a 5-4 edge. The two schools are meeting for the fourth time in the past five years (Wisconsin holds a 2-1 edge) and are meeting in the Battle 4 Atlantis for second time since 2014 (Wisconsin defeated OU in the championship game).
- Tempo - Entering Thursday’s game, Oklahoma ranks 17th nationally in KenPom’s adjusted tempo rating. In contrast, Wisconsin ranks 346th out of 353 teams in the same category. I would say that it will come down to who dictates the tempo, but Florida — who now ranks 248th in that category — was able to keep yesterday’s game at a relatively slow pace only to lose 65-60 to the Sooners. I’m not sure if Oklahoma will be able to pull off the same thing against what appears to be a better team, but OU seems to be capable of winning in more ways than one.
- Rebounding - Brady Manek, Jamuni McNeace & Co. cleaned up on the boards against Florida, holding a 48-34 rebounding edge and a 15-7 offensive rebounding advantage. Wisconsin’s front line of Ethan Happ (6’10”, 12.0 RPG) and Nate Reuvers (6’11”, 7.8 RPG) will put up a bit more of a fight in that regard, and OU’s big will have to battle even harder than they did on Wednesday.
- Christian James - James is taking full advantage of his opportunity to be the alpha of Oklahoma’s offense, as he is currently averaging 21.5 PPG and shooting roughly 53 percent from the field. What’s most encouraging is the fact that he’s scoring in multiple ways, as he frequently drives to the bucket or gets open on backdoor cuts. Oklahoma needed him to be the one to step up if it was going to be successful in 2018-19, and so far, so good.
The winner of today’s game will play in the championship game on Friday at 1 p.m. Each team is guaranteed three games, and the full bracket/schedule can be found here.