1. Who would you say the most valuable players offensively and defensively are for the Badgers?
This question has just one answer if you look at the numbers and that name is Ryan Evans. The senior forward is 3rd on the team in scoring (10.2ppg) and leads the team in rebounding (7.4 rebounds per game) and he also is 3rd on the team in assists. This team goes as far as he takes them more often than not and to me that's the definition of MVP.
2. How would you best describe Bo Ryan's gameplan? There is a lot of talk about Wisconsin being a team that likes to slow the pace of the game; how accurate is that characterization?
There's a bit of truth to the "slow the game down" mantra that is out there about the Badgers, but that's reputation more than reality for this team in 2012-13. You don't average over 65 points a game by slowing the ball down unless you are shooting the ball well, which UW hasn't done all season (42.5% FG shooting as a team). Instead this is a team that can score in bunches when they want to offensively. They have played three very up-tempo teams in Florida, Creighton, and Arkansas and were more than capable of running up and down as they were playing slow.
Last year KenPom had the Badgers ranked 2nd to last in Adjusted Tempo and this year they jumped nearly 30 spots to 310th. There's no doubt the like to slow a game down, but it's more about how they play defense than offense. If there's an open look they'll take it offensively, but they're also just as capable of eating up the shot clock and making you work defensively for all 35 seconds.
3. Wisconsin has a lot of quality wins, and made the B1G tournament championship game. Is a 5-seed about what you expected? Is it too high? Too low?
Wisconsin fans are used to getting the screws put to them by the NCAA committee, it's really old hat and almost a sick badge of honor in this fan base. I think the committee got it pretty close, but it's hard to swallow that a team that finished with the same record in conference as Michigan is a lower seed despite winning both games against them and against regular season conference champ Indiana. I hate cliches but it is what it is and this should be an entertaining game.
4. If there is one player that this team cannot win without, who is it?
I answered this question a bit earlier, but it's Ryan Evans. However, I'll try and pick another player and say freshman Sam Dekker. When this team is having trouble offensively he comes in off the bench and things just seem to change. The Badgers play a bit faster and they attack the rim a bit more when he's in the game.
5. How to Wisconsin fans feel in general about this opening matchup? Love it? Hate it? Want to shut Henderson up?
There's no doubt that Wisconsin fans would love to shut Henderson up, we're not exactly a fan base that loves players who are arrogant or self-promoting like Henderson is. However, that said it's also important to not get caught up in all that extra crap. I think Badger fans are anxiously nervous about this matchup as it could go either way depending on which Badgers team shows up offensively. Personally, I'm excited to see this kind of a matchup because it bodes well for the hard-nosed defense UW likes to play and they've done a great job of dictating pace more often than not.
6. And finally, a score prediction, if you'd like.
I say Wisconsin by ten to twelve myself. As much as Henderson can be a handful, the Badgers play some of the best defense in the country and I have a feeling they'll figure out a way to stop him. I also have a feeling we'll see more of what we saw against teams like Michigan and Indiana and that means a team that can fill it up offensively. If that happens there's no stopping this Badgers team.
Thanks to the guys at Madtown Badgers for the collaboration. Find them on the web right hyah.