NCAA Tournament 2012, Sweet 16: Syracuse Vs. Wisconsin

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NCAA Tournament 2012, Sweet 16: Syracuse Battles Wisconsin For A Trip To Elite 8

A showcase of two conflicting men's college hoops philosophies will take place Thursday, when the No. 1-seeded Syracuse Orange and their patented Jim Boeheim, 2-3-zone defense, square off against the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers and Bo Ryan's stout man-to-man principals in a NCAA Tournament, East Region, Sweet 16 contest in Boston, Ma. (7:15 p.m. ET on CBS).

The Orange (33-2), led by head coach Boeheim, are the slim favorites to advance to the Elite 8, where they will face either No. 2 Ohio St. Buckeyes or No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday. But there's a wave of support surrounding the Badgers (26-9), Ryan's gritty, slow-paced, yet, effective bunch, that feel the first No. 1-seed of March Madness could fall in this Big East Conference-Big Ten Conference showdown at the TD Garden.


Syracuse vs. Wisconsin: Season Recaps | Backcourt | Frontcourt | X-Factor

Captained by Ryan and senior guard Jordan Taylor, the Badgers run a offensive and defensive style many see as the kryptonite to Syracuse's "up-tempo" offense and patented 2-3 zone defense. During the course of a 40-minute game, Wisconsin's game plan is to slow the contest to a snail's pace, not turn the ball over and beat the zone from the 3-point parameter. All solid formulas to defeat the favored Orange.

However, as the Syracuse' players will tell you, during a 35-game season a squad sees it all and Thursday night will not be the first time a team will try to slow the pace of the game and rely on the 3-point shot to pull of an upset. Odds, as supported by the Orange's overall record, usually do not favor the opponent no matter what strategy its tries to implement.

In what could be one of his best season's, Boehiem has put together a team that can handle all sorts of different styles and game plans. The question now is, how flexible is Syracuse now since the loss of sophomore center Fab Melo, who was ruled ineligible for the NCAA Tournament just over a week ago?

The key to the Orange's flexibility was its depth of its bench, which features the Big East Sixth-Man of the Year, sophomore guard Dion Waiters, and consistent contributors, sophomore forward C.J. Fair and junior forward James Southerland, and the 7-footer's defense in the middle of the 2-3 zone.

Melo, who almost averaged three blocks and six rebounds per game before his departure, was a detractor to opposing lane-drivers and made up for any mistakes made at the top of the zone.

With that gone, Syracuse heavily reliant on freshman forward Rakeem Christmas to filled the void. The current results? So far, so good.

Of course, the Orange's Final Four hopes aren't all on the shoulders of Christmas, but mainly on seniors Kris Joseph, the team's leading scorer at 13.7 points per game, and point guard Scoop Jardine, the squad's top passer 4.9 assists per game and floor general.

Syracuse's arsenal doesn't stop there, however, as junior guard Brandon Triche is capable of going for 20 points on any given night, while Waiters is easily SU's best NBA prospect and Fair has been the team's most consistent player all season despite his troubles in the postseason. That goes without mentioning Southerland, who's the Orange's top scorer in the NCAA Tournament.

Meanwhile, the Badgers are hoping and will need a big game from Taylor, who paces one of the lowest scoring teams in the nation (63.9 points per game) with 14.7 ppg. If things are going to go right for the underdog Badgers Thursday, its more than likely the result of Taylor's creation off the dribble and 3-point shooting.

However, if Ryan and Badgers fans were to have it there way, scoring will not be the key factor in this Sweet 16 contest.

Wisconsin will play possession basketball -- a strategy focused on limiting the opponent's chances of scoring points by not forcing anything on offense (no turnovers or bad shots) and clamping down with suffocating man-to-man defense, which under Ryan has been one of the best in the nation for years.

"That's the great thing about the game of basketball is you can play and approach it in a lot of different ways and be successful," said Boeheim Wednesday. "Coaches have done that over the years. There's a lot of different ways to coach a team and to play the game, and yet you can still be successful."

The Badgers will also come at an opponent using athletic junior forward Ryan Evans, who has a solid inside-and-out game, and sophomore guard Josh Gasser. But the most critical component Thursday, will be the 3-point shot, which for the Badgers has been inconsistent all season long, however, connected on 10 of 33 attemept in their win over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Overall, this Sweet 16 showdown should be a good one, as it will come down to which coach -- Boeheim or Ryan? -- prepared the best and which players -- Syracuse's or Wisconsin's -- executed the game place to perfection.

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

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NCAA Tournament 2012, Sweet 16 Syracuse, Wisconsin X-Factors

1The NCAA Tournament's field has officially been trimmed to the Sweet 16, and local hoops program, the Syracuse basketball team, is still alive and need a few more victories to make the Final Four in New Orleans, La., March 31-April 2.

For the next few days, SB Nation New York will be breaking down the Orange's next March Madness contest against the Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday in Boston, Ma. (7:15 p.m. on CBS). For more on Syracuse vs. Wisconsin, check back to this StoryStream.

Meanwhile, here's Part I of our preview: X-factor


Season Recaps | Backcourt Breakdown | Frontcourt Breakdown

Syracuse Orange (33-2)

The flashy names to be tossed around come Thursday, will be senior forward Kris Joseph, senior point guard Scoop Jardine and sophomore guard Dion Waiters, however, there's no doubting that the defensive play of freshman center Rakeem Christmas (6-foot-9, 222 pounds) will be the x-factor against Wisconsin.

Entering the Orange's Sweet 16 match-up with the Badgers, many experts are focusing on the defense of the Badgers and what their stout man-to-man defense can do against Syracuse "up-tempo" offense. Well, despite what people think, the Orange's offense hasn't been the reason why they have won 33 games, instead, its the 2-3 zone defense which was mainly manned by sophomore center Fab Melo.

Now, that Melo is out for the remainder of the season, the defensive burden has been placed on the shoulder of Christmas, who has the athletic ability to be a defensive stud, however, is still raw and is prone to make mistakes that a first-year player can.

With that said, Christmas has proved himself before, as he played well (eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks) in the Round of 32 victory over Kansas St. Wildcats, and was stellar (four points, nine rebounds and three blocks) in a start earlier in the season at the Cincinnati Bearcats, another Sweet 16 team.

If Christmas can be as productive against Wisconsin, Syracuse will have a great chance of advancing to the Elite 8.


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2011 - Rakeem Christmas 35 11.4 1.1 2.1 55.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.8 57.1 1.1 1.9 3.0 0.2 0.7 0.3 0.8 1.6 2.7

Wisconsin Badgers (26-9)

Though the Badgers ultimately go as senior guard Jordan Taylor goes, the senior point guard has proven an ability to almost always turn it on the latter portions of games, especially one's in which he struggled early on. For that, he's not necessarily Wisconsin's X-factor moving forward.

Rather, that moniker belongs to Mike Bruesewitz. His recently improved play has ignited the Badgers as they play what appears to be their best basketball of the season. With a productive Bruesewitz, Wisconsin not only gets those prized hustle plays and rebounds, but it gets a player who can do nearly every Sophomore guard Ben Brust thing on offense - shoot from all around the court, drive and dish.

If Bruesewitz continues to play well, a much smaller burden falls on and Wilson to spell the Badgers' starting five. That, of course, bodes well for Wisconsin's balanced scoring, which has been the most noticeable benefit of this recent stretch of strong play.


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2011 - Mike Bruesewitz 35 25.7 2.0 5.1 39.5 0.7 2.4 29.8 1.0 1.5 70.6 2.0 3.2 5.2 1.7 1.1 0.6 0.3 2.5 5.7

-- By Mike Fiammentta (@mikefiammetta)

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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NCAA Tournament 2012, Sweet 16: Syracuse, Wisconsin Frontcourt Breakdown

The NCAA Tournament's field has officially been trimmed to the Sweet 16, and local hoops program, the Syracuse basketball team, is still alive and needs a few more victories to make the Final Four in New Orleans, La., March 31-April 2.

For the next few days, SB Nation New York will be breaking down the Orange's next March Madness contest against the Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday in Boston (7:15 p.m. on CBS). For more on Syracuse vs. Wisconsin, check back to this StoryStream.

Meanwhile, here's Part III of our preview: Frontcourt Preview


Season Recaps | Backcourt Breakdown

Syracuse Orange (33-2)

The most common word to describe the Syracuse Orange this season has been "deep." The Orange all season have featured 10 players that could probably start on any of the remaining 16 teams left in the NCAA Tournament not named Kentucky or North Carolina.

The backcourt is composed of four players who have earned some sort of pre- or post-season honor or will in the near future, while the frontcourt, at one point in the season, showcased two former High School McDonald's All-Americans (sophomore center Fab Melo and freshman forward Rakeem Christmas), one of them the Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year (Melo), a former Big East Sixth-Man of the Year award winner (senior forward Kris Joseph) and solid role players (sophomore C.J. Fair and sophomore center Baye Keita).

Though Joseph (team-leading 13.7 points per game) and Fair (8.3 ppg and 5.4 rebounds per game) have been consistent contributors to the Orange's season-long success (and don't look for that to change Thursday), the play of Christmas (6-foot-9, 222 pounds) and Kieta (6-10, 220) has been shaky.

And that was the biggest question for top-seeded Syracuse heading into March Madness -- how will the back-line of Syracuse's 2-3 zone hold up without Melo in the middle?

Well, just like the three games during the regular season when the 'Cuse were without their 7-footer, the results have been mixed, but there have been flashes of some really good production.

Case in point, Christmas' six-point, seven-rebound, two-block performance against the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs in the Orange's slim second-round victory last Thursday was lost in the shuffle because of Syracuse's bad overall performance against an inferior opponent.

However, Christmas' third-round performance (eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks) against a seemingly "tougher" Kansas St. Wildcats was noticed by every Orange fan, and got everyone thinking maybe we will be all right without Melo after all.

The fact is, Christmas has the raw talent to be an outstanding bigman. However, his development was slowed this season because of the rapid offseason development of Melo.

Meanwhile, Keita suffered from the same issue. Last season, the recruit from Senegal was a solid bench option behind Melo, as he averaged 14 minutes, two points, almost four rebounds and a block per game. This year, his numbers have been trimmed to 11 mpg, 2 rpg and 0.9 bpg.

In conclusion, Joseph and Fair are going to do what they do best and it's going to be very hard to stop them. The key to breaking down Syracuse's frontcourt is to get the very raw Christmas to make bonehead mistakes to shake his confidence and possibly get him in foul trouble, and hope that Kieta continues to be shaky like he has all season.

-- By Jared E. Smith (@JaredSmithCNY)

Wisconsin Badgers (26-9)

While guard Jordan Taylor and the younger Josh Gasser are undoubtedly prone to inconsistency, Wisconsin's frontcourt has seen a wide range of performances this season. Ryan Evans, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound junior, has emerged as the Badgers' bona fide No. 2 option behind Taylor. After averaging just 2.8 points per 11.6 minutes of playing time last season, Evans has improved immensely in 2011-12 to average 11.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in 30.5 minutes of playing time per game. He's scored in double figures in each of Wisconsin's last 14 games, thanks in large to part to his versatility. Evans' jumper is sound enough to extend his range close to the 3-point arc, and he can also drive to the hoop and finish with authority.

Elsewhere in the lineup, 6-foot-10, 235-pound Jared Berggren mans the center position. Berggren, a junior, has had his fair share of up-and-down performances, though at his best he's a typical Wisconsin big man -- quick and agile enough to maneuver around the perimeter, as well as coordinated enough to extend his shooting range to 3-point territory. Berggren averaged just 6.9 minutes of playing last year, but now he gets 27.9 and scores 10.3 points, grabs 5.0 rebounds and blocks 1.7 shots per game. Much of his inconsistency comes on the defensive end, as his lanky frame occasionally puts him at a size mismatch with his opponent. This season, Berggren struggled defensively against Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Michigan State's Draymond Green, Derrick Nix and Adriean Payne.

Most inconsistent among Wisconsin's frontcourt trio, though, has been Mike Bruesewitz. The 6-foot-6, 222-pound junior who traded in one of the nation's most beloved haircuts (something along the lines of a tousled red-orange afro) for a more benign buzz cut is the Badgers' undeniable energy and hustle guy. His games have always been better graded by the number of floor burns he collects as opposed to his points, though Bruesewitz is just recently breaking out of a shooting slump that severely hindered Wisconsin down the stretch. After sinking a 3-pointer at Minnesota Feb. 9, Bruesewitz didn't hit another until the Montana game March 15.

During that stretch, at least, Bruesewitz continued to rebound and make his normal impact on the game aside from offense. Against Montana, he finally seemed to regain his confidence, scoring eight points on 3-for-5 shooting (2-for-3 from 3-point range) and grabbing four rebounds. Against Vanderbilt, Bruesewitz scored 10 points and added three rebounds.

-- By Mike Fiammentta (@mikefiammetta)

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

Continue

NCAA Tournament 2012, Sweet 16: Syracuse, Wisconsin Backcourt Breakdown

The NCAA Tournament's field has officially been trimmed to the Sweet 16, and local hoops program, the Syracuse basketball team, is still alive and need a few more victories to make the Final Four in New Orleans, La., March 31-April 2.

For the next few days, SB Nation New York will be breaking down the Orange's next March Madness contest against the Wisconsin Badger on Thursday in Boston, Ma (7:45 p.m. on CBS). For more on Syracuse vs. Wisconsin, check back to this StoryStream.

Meanwhile, here's Part II of our preview: Backcourt Breakdown


More: Season Recaps -- Frontcourt Breakdown

Syracuse Orange (33-2)

Possibly the nation's most underrated group of guards is sprinkled within the 2011-12 Syracuse roster. The Orange may not have the best one in the nation -- though sophomore guard Dion Waiters would tell you otherwise -- or the most dependable, as senior Scoop Jardine and junior Brandon Triche disappear at times. However, depth and compatibility-wise its tough to find a better group -- just ask McDonald's All-American Michael Carter-Williams, who rarely sees any playing time.

For the past two season, the motto has been: "As Scoop goes, as does the Syracuse offense." And there was no more perfect example of that than last Saturday, when the No. 1-seeded Orange downed the Kansas St. Wildcats, 75-59, in the Round of 32.

Ahead just 25-24 at halftime, mainly because Jardine was awful in the first half (zero points and four turnovers), the Orange used 16 points, a handful of assists and two turnovers from its floor general in the second to ease into the Sweet 16.

And if you take a second glance at Saturday's boxscore, one will see Waiters' game-high 18 points, including 12 in the first half. In Syracuse's last four postseason games, Waiters has been the Orange's most consistent player, scorer and spark (he comes off the bench) as he's averaged 19.0 points per game and is shooting a stellar 55.5-percent from the field.

Meanwhile, Triche is the secret weapon. Not only is the junior able to go off for 20 points on any given night (Triche has actually only done it once this season), but he can create havoc in the 2-3 zone defense.

Did I mention there's a dependable High School All-American sitting on the bench?

-- By Jared E. Smith (@JaredSmithCNY)

Wisconsin Badgers (26-9)

This season, senior guard Jordan Taylor's numbers are down nearly across the board. His points (14.7), assists (4.0) and rebounds per game (3.8) have all dropped, as has his field goal (.402), three-point (.359) and free-throw percentages (.785). After being named a preseason All-American, expectations for Taylor's individual statistics were undeniably inflated -- perhaps irrationally so.

Taylor's numbers have still been enough to carry the Badgers into late March, as Wisconsin's offense appears to have rounded into top shape over the last month. With that happening, UW's top-ranked scoring defense (allowing only 52.9 points per game) hasn't needed nearly as much help.

Alongside Taylor, sophomore guard Josh Gasser has built off his impressive freshman season to develop into one of Wisconsin's better all-around players. His numbers (7.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game) hardly leap off box scores, though they do reflect Gasser's ability as a player who can shoot from all around the court, rebound and defend. Quite frequently, the latter becomes the most important, as Gasser often defends the opposing team's best guard. Against Vanderbilt, Josh Gasser limited star guard John Jenkins to just 13 points on 3-of-13 shooting.

-- By Mike Fiammentta (@mikefiammetta)

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

Continue

NCAA Tournament 2012, Sweet 16: Syracuse, Wisconsin Season Recaps

The NCAA Tournament's field has officially been trimmed to the Sweet 16, and local hoops program, the Syracuse basketball team, is still alive and need a few more victories to make the Final Four in New Orleans, La., March 31-April 2.

For the next few days, SB Nation New York will be breaking down the Orange's next March Madness contest against the Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday in Boston, Ma. (7:15 p.m. on CBS). For more on Syracuse vs. Wisconsin, check back to this StoryStream.

Meanwhile, here's Part I of our preview: Season Recaps


Related: Full SB Nation New York NCAA Tournament StoryStream

Syracuse Orange (33-2)

Since their National Championship run in 2002-03, the Syracuse Orange fanbase has been waiting for a team to match that squad's talent, depth and grittiness to pull out close victories. Now, most Orange followers understand that only once in a lifetime does a talent like Carmelo Anthony walk through the doors of the Carrier Dome, but a Final Four run has been done before with lesser Jim Boeheim teams.

Glimpses of greatness was showcased during the '09-10 season, when veteran leaders Wesley Johnson and Andy Rautins stepped up their games to lead the Orange to an impressive 28-3 regular-season finish and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, an injury to senior center Arinze Onuaku derailed any shot at being a real National Championship contender, as Syracuse fell in the Sweet 16 to the Buttler Bulldogs.

Last season's team showed sparks of what could be, but was still too raw to be a real Final Four threat, and they again exited early in the month of March. The raw talent did give fans hope that this season could be different, but nobody ever imagined something like this.

Despite scandal, criticism, scandal, more criticism and a weekly "breaking news" story, the Orange started the season on a record clip (20-0), raced to No. 1 in the national rankings and eventually cruised to a Big East Conference regular-season title.

By regular season's end, the Syracuse roster featured an All-Big East First Teamer, senior forward Kris Joseph; a second-team selection, senior point guard Scoop Jardine; Sixth Man of the Year, sophomore guard Dion Waiters; and Defensive Player of the Year, sophomore center Fab Melo.

All the good feelings came to an end, though, when the Orange played poorly in a Big East Tournament semifinal loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats, and a few days later, when they lost Melo for the remainder of the season because of an eligibility issue.

With the college-basketball world watching, No. 1-seeded Syracuse struggled but survived against No. 16 UNC-Asheville Bulldogs last Thursday, and left fans feeling a bit better with a convincing Round of 32 victory over the No. 8 Kansas St. Wildcats.

Right now, it's clear that this team has the talent to still make a Final Four run, but the loss of Melo, the constant scrutiny and the Wisconsin defense and shooting could be too much overcome.

-- By Jared E. Smith (@JaredSmithCNY)

Wisconsin Badgers (26-9)

For much of the past two seasons, the Badgers have lived and died by the play of Jordan Taylor. Last year as a junior, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Taylor emerged as one of the nation's best up-and-coming point guards. With a future NBA draft pick in Jon Leuer and another impressive big man in Keaton Nankivil (now playing in Germany) complementing him, Taylor blossomed into a smart, decisive point guard with an ability to score surpassed only by his ability to keep the offense moving without turning it over (Taylor led the nation with a plus-3.8 assist-turnover ratio).

With three new starters around him and a couple of bench players who played only limited roles in 2010-11, Taylor's done less with less this year. Earlier in the season, he seemed intent on getting his teammates acclimated to their higher-profile roles, fostering plenty of discussion about whether he should've been more focused on carrying the scoring load.

As the Badgers approached the Big Ten season, the oft-skewed numbers of non-conference play settled down. Wisconsin's non-conference slate was notable for two things - a near-upset of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and a stunning (although given how well the rest of their season transpired, perhaps not so much) home loss to Marquette three days later.

The Badgers then began Big Ten play by losing three of their first four games. But before the doom-and-gloom clouds could really gather, they won their next six games -- a streak that wasn't snapped until the Feb. 4 matchup against Ohio State. Wisconsin only lost three times the remainder of the season -- twice to Michigan State and once to Iowa (for the second time).

After that loss to the Hawkeyes on Feb. 23, the Badgers ended the regular season on a four-game winning streak. A 65-52 loss to Michigan State in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament briefly cooled Wisconsin, but the team has set forth two of its finest performances all season in the NCAAs. An impressive rout of 13th-seeded Montana preceded Saturday night's thrilling 60-57 win over fifth-seeded Vanderbilt.

-- By Mike Fiammentta (@mikefiammetta)

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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NCAA Tournament 2012 Schedule: Syracuse Vs. Wisconsin Game Time, TV Schedule, Betting Odds

After earning third-round victories on Saturday, the East Region's top-seeded Syracuse Orange and No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers will square off in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS in Boston. The winner advances to the Elite 8 to face either No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats or No. 2 Ohio St. Buckeyes, which are playing at 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS.

The Badgers reached the Sweet 16 by downing No. 13 Montana Grizzlies, 73-49, in the second round and moved on with a slim victory over No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores, 60-57, on Saturday. Meanwhile, Syracuse's march to the Sweet 16 can be documented in this SB Nation New York StoryStream.

Currently, the Las Vegas betting odds have Syracuse as a unanimous 4 1/2-point favorite.

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Syracuse Sweet 16 Opponent Set: Wisconsin Downs Vanderbilt

After dispatching a Big 12 foe on Saturday, the Syracuse Orange will next get a crack at one of the Big Ten's finest when they take on Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.

The Badgers held on for a 60-57 third round win against SEC tournament champion Vanderbilt, sparked by five double digit scoring efforts. Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin's standout point guard, led the way for the Badgers with 14 points, and played all but one minute in the game. Wisconsin also held Vanderbilt's star guard John Jenkins to just 3-13 shooting and 13 points.

The Badgers - who are coached by Bo Ryan - finished 12-6 in Big Ten play during the regular season and entered the NCAA tournament with a 24-9 record.

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Syracuse Vs. Kansas State, NCAA Tournament Scores: Orange Beat Wildcats, 75-59

Sophomore Dion Waiters provided the first half fire power, while senior guard Scoop Jardine was the second-half spark the No. 1-seeded Syracuse Orange need to pull off a 75-59 third-round NCAA Tournament victory over No. 8 Kansas St. Wildcats. The Orange (33-2) become the first team to advance to the Sweet 16, where it will face either No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers or No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores next week.

Waiters netted a 11 of his team-best 18 points in the first 20 minutes, while Jardine rebounded from a terrible first half to net 16, including three 3-pointers, and dish out eight assists for Syracuse, which shot 51-percent from the field, 6-for-9 from behind the 3-point arc. The Orange's bench outscored the Wildcat's bench, 33-0.

"Basketball is two halves," said Jardine to the CBS broadcast team after the game. "The first half, I was sped up a little bit, the defense did a great job of controlling me and not letting me get into the paint to get shots that I want."

"In the second half, coach told me to take my time and take the shots if they give them to me. The first play of the second half, I came out knocked down a shot and got my rhythm going. I was just aggressive from there on out."

In replace of Big East Defensive Player of the Year, sophomore center Fab Melo, freshman center Rakeem Christmas put together a collegiate-best performance of eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Junior forward James Southerland came off the bench to score 15 points and collect six rebounds.

Ahead 36-34 just 4:52 into the second half, the Orange used 9-0 run, started by a Jardine 3-pointer and capped by two free throws by Southerland, to take a 45-34 lead with 12:51 to go.

A brief KSU spurt trimmed the margin to five points, however, a 8-0 run pushed SU's lead to a 55-42 with 9:06 remaining in the game.

From there, the Wildcats' offense, which shot just 31-percent from the floor, 23-percent from long range, couldn't muster enough points to kick start a comeback. Syracuse closed out the victory on a 7-2 run.

Junior guard Rodney McGruder finished the contest with a game-best 18 points, while Jordan Henriquez tallied 10 points and 17 rebounds, 11 on the offensive end.

Despite being without its top rebounder, senior Jamar Samuels, who did not play because of an eligibility issue that propped up a half hour before the game, Kansas State out-rebounded Syracuse 37-31, and 22-8 on the offensive side of the ball.

The Wildcats finish their season with a 22-11 overall record.

For a breakdown of Syracuse vs. Kansas State, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream.

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket stick with SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on every March Madness game.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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