Basketball preview: No. 7 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Pitt


By Dan Sostek / Sports Editor


PITT                                      WISCONSIN

G- James Robinson             G- Bronson Koenig

G- Chris Jones                      G- Zak Showalter

F- Jamel Artis                       F- Nigel Hayes

F- Michael Young                 F- Vitto Brown

F- Rafael Maia                      F- Ethan Happ



Wisconsin 73 Pitt 69

This game is a toss-up, as so many are in the tournament, with two similar and evenly matched teams going at it. But primarily, Wisconsin has the advantage in tournament experience, coming off a National Championship game appearance. Nigel Hayes was a key piece on that team and has taken on the alpha dog role on this squad. For any chance of a Pitt win, Jamel Artis and Michael Young will need to have stout defensive performances to minimize his impact.




Wisconsin’s all-time record against the Panthers


Consecutive seasons in which Wisconsin’s football team has made a bowl game and its basketball team has made the NCAA Tournament in the same season, the longest streak in NCAA history.


NCAA Tournament appearances for Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon, the third-most ever by a coach in their first 13 seasons.




It’s no secret that Pitt’s success is incredibly dependent on Artis’s output. In some of Pitt’s biggest games this year, like its first matchup against UNC, road loss at Miami and its two losses to Louisville, the junior forward struggled, leaving the Panthers searching for answers. Artis needs to assert himself early, driving into the post and challenging Wisconsin’s post defenders, but he also needs to improve his defensive output, which has been questionable at times. If he can tally at least 15 points, Pitt will like its chances.


Hayes played 37 minutes in last year’s National Championship game, a loss to Duke, tallying 13 points. The forward has been asked to do much more this year, and has delivered, leading the team in scoring, while tallying nearly six rebounds and three assists per contest. He’ll match up with either Jamel Artis or Michael Young, depending on the lineup that Wisconsin has on the court.


Koenig also started last year’s NCAA Championship and scored 10 points. He is particularly a threat from beyond the arc. He’s shooting just under 40 percent from three this year. Pitt point guard James Robinson, the Panthers’ best perimeter defender, will man this difficult matchup, hoping that his advantage in age overcomes Koenig’s experience in the big dance.



“We have to take advantage of our advantages.” – Pitt forward Sheldon Jeter on the Panthers’ forwards

“They’re a team that, identity-wise, is very similar to what [Wisconsin’s] has been over the course of time.” – Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard on Pitt

“Everyone makes a big deal about March Madness, and the brackets when you were younger, and now it’s finally special to realize that we’ve made it and can be a part of it, not just watch it.” – Pitt forward Ryan Luther on his first NCAA Tournament berth