Wisconsin crushes American in NCAA Tournament opener
BY TONI GINNETTI Staff REporter March 20, 2014 1:54PM
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan and players on the bench react for a three pointer shot by Wisconsin guard Ben Brust during the second half of a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Updated: March 20, 2014 10:13PM
MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan had recurring nightmares before Thursday about his Badgers playing No. 15 seed American.
“The first time I woke up, we got beat back-door,’’ he said. “The next time I woke up [American senior center Tony] Wroblicky made two straight left-handed jump hooks and followed it with a third with his right hand.’’
Ryan never dreamed his team would go on a 50-9 surge against the Eagles, fueling a 75-35 victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament West region at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
“That doesn’t happen,’’ Ryan said.
His Badgers (27-7) proved him wrong with the largest margin of victory in the history of the school’s 44 NCAA postseason contests. The previous best was 24 in a 73-49 victory against Montana in 2012.
“Wisconsin has demolished some pretty good teams this year,’’ said American coach Mike Brennan, whose team had three field goals and 13 points in the second half. “They’re a No. 2 seed for a reason.
“They have so many weapons and play so well together. And they defend. They stopped us stone-cold.’’
The Badgers advance to Saturday’s third-round game against No. 7 Oregon, which downed No. 10 BYU 87-68 behind 23 points from sophomore Elgin Cook, a Milwaukee native.
“We won’t have the same hours to prepare,’’ Ryan said. “Our guys will have to be quick learners.’’
They had days to prepare for the Eagles’ “Princeton style’’ offense, the system former Northwestern coach Bill Carmody employed.
“We felt defensively we could do a good job because of the Northwestern teams of old, and because we had days to prepare,’’ Ryan said.
The Eagles (20-13) had the Badgers briefly on their heels in the first half, staying true to their style though trailing 8-2 early. Junior guard John Schoof (11 points) scored his team’s first eight points as the Eagles built a 19-13 lead with 9:17 remaining in the first half.
The Badgers had one field goal in a nine-minute stretch, that basket coming on a three-pointer from senior Ben Brust. Their next field goal from sophomore forward Sam Dekker started a 19-3 burst to close the half and give the Badgers a 32-22 lead. Brust, from north-suburban Hawthorn Woods, scored 11 of his 17 in the surge.
“We had to settle in and guard their running and made some good things happen as we got some stops and ran a little and opened up the floor,’’ Brust said.
Ryan praised the Eagles and first-year coach Brennan, whose squad won the Patriot League tournament and rebounded from a 10-20 record.
“I never watched as many films of an opponent as I did this one because every time I watched, I kept looking at things they were doing and I was extremely impressed,’’ Ryan said. “They got down 20, 25, 30 and they were still running their half court offense just the way they were running it when they went on that spurt in the first half.”