The Final Four is here and the most interesting question in Texas this weekend is whether Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers can match up with John Calipari’s Big Bad Kentucky Wildcats.
It’s the cliché “contrast of styles” with one side yielding experience versus the new “Fab 5″ of freshman.
Yesterday, we looked at the frontcourt. Today, we match up Kentucky’s uber-talented guards versus Wisconsin’s experience and depth in the backcourt.
1.) Point Guard Andrew Harrison (6-6, 215)
Likely Counterpart: Point Guard Traevon Jackson (6-2, 208)
Matchup: The Harrison twins are returning home to Texas and Andrew is the conductor of this Kentucky offense. He’s not necessarily a strong shooter (despite putting up 20 on 6-of-9 shooting in win over Wichita St), yet he can create his own shot if he needs to. Jackson is an above average defender who is one of the quicker guards on this Wisconsin team, so his primary goal will be to keep Andrew in front of him and out of the paint.
2.) Guard Aaron Harrison (6-6, 218)
Likely Counterpart: Guards Josh Gasser (6-3, 190) and/or Ben Brust (6-1, 196)
Matchup: Aaron, unlike his twin brother, is a strong shooter. He’s been particularly lethal from beyond the arc, connecting on 13-of-24 three-pointers in the tournament. None bigger than the eventual game-winner versus Michigan with a Wolverine hand right in his face. Gasser is one of the Big Ten’s best defenders and will need to communicate with his teammate Brust to make sure they know where Aaron is all night long.
3.) Guard James Young (6-6, 215)
Likely Counterpart: Guards Gasser and Brust
Matchup: Young is the difference-maker for this young Wildcats team. Julius Randle and the Harrison twins get all the attention, but it’s Young who does all the dirty work and serves as the glue. When Young plays well, the Wildcats typically play well too. Brust is a very similar type of player for the Badgers and will have the assignment of keeping up with both Young and Aaron Harrison. Young started the season by jacking up shots at an alarming rate, but has since matured in to a good decision maker. He’s shooting around 43 percent in the tournament and increasing his confidence as he goes.
4.) Reserve Guard Dominique Hawkins (6-0, 193)
Likely Counterpart: Reserve Guard Bronson Koenig (6-3, 190)
Matchup: Hawkins is the one guy the Badgers actually have a physical advantage over. The only problem is that he plays sparingly and almost never shoots the ball. Koenig is a wildcard for the Badgers and can contribute anywhere from zero to 12 points on any given night.
Advantage in the Backcourt: Wisconsin
It’s hard not to pick the talent on the Wildcats. However, experience almost always trumps talent in the backcourt. Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier is a perfect example of this on the other side of the bracket as he’s carried the Huskies all the way to the Final Four. Don’t get me wrong, neither Brust, Gasser or Jackson are Napier, but together they can be just as dangerous.
Do you think the Badgers will have a problem matching Kentucky’s size and athleticism? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at email@example.com.
*Pictures obtained from zimbio.com and kentucky.com.Follow paulmbanks