Welcome to the Elite Eight Saturday open thread. Tonight, two of the Final Four teams will be determined, and tomorrow, the Final two will fall into place. The culmination of all this will be next Saturday and Monday in Indianapolis, Indiana, when the 2015 NCAA Tournament champion will be crowned.
Today’s games are:
|Arizona vs. Wisconsin||06:09:00 PM||Los Angeles, CA||Staples Center|
|Notre Dame vs. Kentucky||08:49:00 PM||Cleveland, OH||Quicken Loans Arena|
Of course, we will have the obligatory live game thread for the Kentucky game, but I’m confident most of you will want to talk about the Arizona/Wisconsin game that precedes it. Here is a quick analysis of the Badgers-Wildcats contest:
Efficiency-wise, this contest looks very much like the Notre Dame-Kentucky game — a highly efficient offense vs. a powerful defense. Wisconsin has the most efficient offense in the country at nearly 1.26 points/possession Arizona’s defense is the third best in the country, allowing 0.87 points/possession. Something has to give here.
A quick perusal of how both teams fared against similarly efficient teams should prove instructive. Arizona defeated a very similar team, Gonzaga, in their home arena by just three points back in December. The Wildcats managed to hold the Zags to 0.94 points/possession, their lowest output of the season. While Gonzaga and Wisconsin are not similar in how they execute their offense, and that does matter, we can see that in this case, the offensive team significantly underperformed their season averages.
For Wisconsin, the best comparison we can come up with is versus Oklahoma in the Bahamas very early in the season. But the result is also instructive, as the Badgers suffered their fourth least efficient offensive performance of the season even though they won, primarily because Oklahoma couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean.
The upshot is, the defensive team has the advantage in most of these matchups. Therefore, I favor the Arizona Wildcats to win this game, probably by the high single digits.