MILWAUKEE — The start of the second round didn’t go without its routs.
While teams such as Harvard and Dayton were celebrating close wins or upsets during the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the first No. 2-No. 15 matchup at the Bradley Center ultimately held to form, as Wisconsin beat American 75-35 in a West regional game.
Surrounded by a decidedly pro-Wisconsin crowd, the Badgers trailed 19-13 early but closed the first half on a 19-3 run, part of a 40-6 run that bridged the first and second halves.
Badgers coach Bo Ryan said he didn’t believe his team would take such a substantial lead.
“Our guys, if you told them it was 40-6, I don't think they would,” Ryan said. “They just took care of each possession and that's what you have to do, whether you're down or whether you're up.”
American’s Princeton offense lost its tempo as the game went on. The Badgers held the Eagles to 13 points in the second half.
“We were excited,” American center Tony Wroblicky said. “We were playing well. We were making them take tough shots and we were scoring. Then, you know, after that we just kind of hit a rut and just extended throughout the rest of the game.”
The Eagles finished 11 for 37 from the floor; Wroblicky and John Schoof each led American with 11 points. Traevon Jackson led Wisconsin with 18 points and Ben Brust added 17.
“You notice I'm really impressed again by what American did,” Ryan said. “They got down 20, 25, 30. 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. That tells you a lot about a team. I mean, they needed to get some shots a little quicker when you're playing from behind, but they still ran their stuff.”
Wisconsin faces No. 7 Oregon on Saturday in a third-round West regional game. Oregon defeated No. 10 BYU 87-68.
HAYES MAKES DEBUT: Whitmer graduate Nigel Hayes scored six points in 22 minutes off the bench for No. 2 Wisconsin in its tournament opener.
Hayes provided reinforcement for Wisconsin’s inside game; the Badgers’ post players accounted for 30 points and 18 of Wisconsin’s 31 rebounds.
“There was a couple times where we throw it to Frank [Kaminsky] and a couple guys would pinch or raid a little bit,” Brust said. “It's also good to have a guy like Nigel who can come in there and open some stuff, too. Touches in the post help because our bigs make good decisions with it.”
BEILEIN A FINALIST: Michigan men's basketball coach John Beilein has been named a finalist for the Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year Award.
Beilein is one of five finalists, joining Virginia's Tony Bennett, SMU's Larry Brown, Florida's Billy Donovan and Wichita State's Gregg Marshall.
The Naismith Award will be presented April 6 in Dallas.