A common theme this year for Big Ten teams in March Madness is "waaaaaaah we're in Kentucky's region". A good way to avoid that is to win the conference regular season and tournament titles, go 31-3, and get a 1 seed of your own. It's just that simple folks.
How to avoid playing Kentucky until the Final Four
So without further ado, how will Wisconsin repeat last year and make it back to the Final Four? Well, the road looks a lot like it did last year...
First Round: Coastal Carolina (24-9, 12-6 Big South)
Coastal Carolina has a sweet nickname (Chanticleers), is 8 miles from Myrtle Beach, and has zero chance of upsetting the Badgers. Sure they made the tournament last year, and even gave Virginia a bit of a scare, but they have a massive problem. They don't play a guy taller than 6'8. Frank Kaminsky will have a field day. Their one good post player (Badou Diagne), is a decent matchup against Nigel Hayes, although Hayes is on fire and that still leaves Sam Dekker in the front court running around throwing down dunks. Wisconsin runs away with this.
Second Round: Oregon (25-9, 13-5 Pac-12) or Oklahoma State (18-13, 8-10 Big 12)
I have Oregon winning this, but let's get one thing straight. The Pac-12 is bad. Like there's a reason a lot of people are picking Stephen F. Austin to beat far and away the second best team in the conference. As far as Oregon goes, they lost to Michigan, which is not particularly impressive. They managed to beat Utah twice, which are their only two signature wins, unless you count beating UCLA and Illinois. This team likes to run, and Joseph Young scores 20.2 points a game, but they just aren't very fundamentally sound. This also isn't the same team that pushed the Badgers to the wire last year, as 4 players got charged with rape. No means no guys. Wisconsin rolls to the Sweet 16.
Should I be wrong (unlikely), the Badgers will play Oklahoma State. I have not watched one second of Oklahoma State basketball, but ESPN tells me they lost by 9 to Maryland at home and are good at beating Baylor. In transitive property news, they beat UW-Milwaukee by 14. Wisconsin beat UW-Milwaukee by 45. In Milwaukee. That's like the Super Bowl for the Panthers. I would know, as my sister and about half my high school graduating class goes/went there. They come into the tournament having lost 6 of 7, and Oregon will take care of them just fine.
Sweet 16: North Carolina Academics (24-11, 11-7 ACC) or Harvard Nerds (22-7, 11-3 Ivy) or Arkansas Fighting Bielemas (26-8, 13-5 SEC) or Wofford You Still Be Laughing at Fighting Bielemas (28-6, 16-2 Southern)
I have UNC playing Wisconsin, but this is tough to figure out. UNC has all the talent in the world that isn't playing for Kentucky, but found a way to lose to lolowa at home. They were probably an epic choke job at Duke and a one point loss to Notre Dame away from at least a 3 seed, but here they are playing Harvard. They're a typical Roy Williams UNC team. They're talented, they run a lot, and they're about as mentally fragile as Lindsey Lohan suffering from cocaine withdrawals. HOW DO YOU LOSE A 9 POINT LEAD IN 3 MINUTES?!?!?!?!?! This team does weird things, one stretch they can look unstoppable, the next they're turning it over 4 straight possessions. That type of play doesn't beat Wisconsin.
This of course assumes that Harvard doesn't pull a Harvard and Harvard UNC out of the tournament. Apparently the kids at Michigan just aren't smart enough to run Tommy Amaker's system. It probably won't happen. This Harvard team is more like past Ivy League sacrificial lambs than recent Harvard teams. They've beaten no one of consequence (only tournament team they've beaten is Northeastern), and Virginia held them to 27 points. Twenty. Seven. UNC is just too athletic and Harvard won't be able to score enough to pull the upset.
Arkansas, "better known as the best team in the SEC that isn't Kentucky", is kind of a poor man's UNC (or rich man's Oregon? They're could be a few shootouts in this region). They aren't as talented, but they also like to run the floor (fastest tempo in the SEC). Their best win is SMU, who as a 6 seed has a better resume than Arkansas... CAN YOU NOT SEC BIAS EVERYWHERE ESPN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HAVE SOME PRIDE. This team really isn't that good, yet somehow spent the entire season ranked. Basically their claim to fame is managing to beat SEC teams that are the equivalent of Illinois. I'm going to stop this SEC rant now.
Wofford's nickname is the Terriers. I'm trying to think of something less menacing... Gopher. That would be a pretty dumb mascot. Nobody would ever use a gopher as a mascot though. They have a pretty record, but they're basically a poor man's Murray State in that department, except way less exciting. I would expect Murray State to beat them, and I expect Arkansas to destroy them. Wofford will win by 5 now #allthe12seedupsets. Also, why are there two schools from South Carolina in the WEST region? NCAA, stop investigating peanut butter sandwiches and go study a map.
Elite 8: Supposedly there are teams other than Arizona in the bottom of this bracket (even a Big Ten team!). Do. Not. Care.
Interesting note: look to Baylor to lose to Georgia State. They can play lock down defense, and RJ Hunter is a legit NBA player. Also with BYU scoring 561 points a game, I'm seeing a BYU-Georgia State game happening (adios Xavier). Ohio State will beat VCU, chaos reigns in the bottom half of this bracket. The Buckeyes being a 10 seed is kind of a scandal, I thought they'd be at least an 8.
So Arizona, you can write an entire article on Wisconsin-Arizona. I probably will later this month. Arizona is talented, they play tough defense, they can blow people out. Many said they should be a 1 seed over Duke. The game is in Los Angeles, but that's irrelevant since they played them in Anaheim last year, so that home court advantage has been neutralized once. I've been worried about Wisconsin losing to Arizona in a revenge kind of game, but Our Almighty Father Bo Ryan is a genius, and no disrespect to Sean Miller, but Bo will out coach him.
BRING ON KENTUCKY