Wisconsin Badgers' Taylor attempts a three point basket while being guarded by Syracuse Orange's Waiters during the final seconds of their men's NCAA East Regional basketball game in Boston

How did Wisconsin lose despite making 14 3-pointers?


One of the biggest mysteries of this year’s NCAA tournament will likely be the fact that Wisconsin lost a game in which they made 14 3-pointers.

Jordan Taylor couldn’t get the most important attempt to fall however, resulting in a 64-63 win for No. 1 seed Syracuse.

So, how did the Badgers end up losing the game? A look at their defense would reveal the biggest reason why.

Syracuse managed to shoot 55.1% from the field, a far cry from the percentages put up by Montana (38.3%) and Vanderbilt (43.5%) in Wisconsin’s two wins in Albuquerque.

Per the shot chart offered by CBSSports.com Syracuse finished the game with ten layups and two dunks, meaning that at least 12 of their 27 made field goals were scored in the paint. Syracuse would outscore Wisconsin 30-10 in the paint.

“Everybody knows they’re an explosive offensive team,” said Taylor. “We were just really trying to get stops and find a way to get stops.  They did good job of getting in the lane, and they just got one more stop and one more score than we did.”

Syracuse was also economical with their attempts from beyond the arc, taking just nine and making five. Syracuse averages 18 3-point attempts per game on the season, making just six.

Watching a team knock down three after three like Wisconsin did (they made 8 of 9 at one point in the second half) can seduce less disciplined teams into a shootout, but Jim Boeheim’s team stayed the course and it paid off.

It also helped Syracuse to have C.J. Fair, who had struggled in the role of starter both in the NCAA tournament as well as in the three games that center Fab Melo missed during the regular season.

In the five games he started before tonight Fair made 8 of 29 shots from the field, averaging just 5.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Against Wisconsin Fair made 7 of 9 from the field, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

“Today he was able to give us some scoring, and when he’s giving us scoring, we’re hard to beat,” said Syracuse point guard Scoop Jardine. “He’s that offensive weapon that you don’t have to call a play for, but you look up and he’s got 15 points.

“That’s something special with a kid like that.  So I am happy he got his powers back and we can go into the Elite 8.”

Put those two factors together and there’s the reason why a team that made 14 3-pointers fell one point short.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.