There is no better matchup of opposing playing styles in the round of 64 than Friday’s game between the five-seed Wisconsin Badgers and the 12-seed Ole Miss Rebels. The Badgers, led by head coach Bo Ryan and his deliberately slow pace, will look to control SEC Newcomer of the Year Marshall Henderson and his high-powered Rebels.
Henderson is the story of the game and reason alone to watch. The junior transfer from South Plains (Texas) College (where he led the team to an undefeated record and the junior college national championship) averaged 20.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game this season. He scores at high volumes, doesn’t pass the ball much, and shoots an absurd 10.8 three-pointers a game at 35.7 percent. He’s the focal point of the Rebel offense and he proved it during Ole Miss’ SEC Championship win against the Florida Gators. In that game, he had 21 points, four rebounds, seven turnovers, and this perfect taunt to silence Gator fans.
Later that night, Henderson was awarded the SEC Tournament MVP, partied with fellow Rebel athletes and won ten straight games of pong (according to his Twitter account). Sounds like a decent night.
Henderson is an aggravator on the floor and off, and he loves the attention that comes from it. When talking with USA Today, he had this to say about his antics: “It’s a freaking game. It’s a basketball game. People take it so seriously that it’s funny for a little white guy like me to just come around, talk trash to people and the fans. Like, what are you going to do in the stands? What am I going to do on the court to you in the stands? It’s funny just to mess with people.”
He’s rightfully unashamed of the way he plays and there’s nothing dull about him.
Now compare him to Bo Ryan and the Badgers who play at an incredibly slow pace that allows them to drain the clock, make threes and limit turnovers. The Badgers as a team turn the ball over only 10 times per game. Due to this, they will force the Rebels to play at a slower pace as they’ll get few opportunities to run off of turnovers. It’s an amazing system that works exceptionally well, even with the Badgers’ best player, Josh Gasser, out for the season.
Like pretty much every 5/12 matchup, this game promises to be great. Old school versus new school. Slow versus fast. Boring versus exciting. I predict that old, boring and slow will win the game. But it is impossible to count out Henderson and his Rebels.
Who will win this game?
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