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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Baylor Bears Prediction: NCAA Tournament Second Round Preview

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Baylor Bears Prediction: NCAA Tournament Second Round Preview

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Baylor Bears Prediction: NCAA Tournament Second Round Preview

Wisconsin tries to channel their inner 2017 Badgers when they take on the South Region's top-seeded Baylor Bears in the second round on Sunday. Back in 2017, Wisconsin knocked off 1-seed Villanova 65-62 after beating No. 8 Virginia Tech. This year's version is feeling good after crushing North Carolina 85-62 on Friday. Brad Davison led the way with 29 while D'Mitrik Trice added 21 points in the rout.

Meanwhile, Baylor had no problems with Hartford 79-55 in the 1-16 matchup. The Bears got 22 points from Macio Teague, one of four players to put up double digits.

These two teams last played in November 2017 when Baylor won 70-65 on a neutral court (Sprint Center, now T-Mobile Center) in Kansas City, Missouri.

South Region: No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers (18-12) vs. No. 1 Baylor Bears (23-2)

Time: Sunday, March 21 at 2:40 p.m. ET

Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse (Indianapolis)

TV: CBS

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Spread: Baylor -6.0

Keys for Wisconsin

If they can go 13-for-27 from 3-point land once again, that would be a great place to start. The Badgers were able to blister the nets and mitigate potential issues on the boards against a larger North Carolina team. Baylor's defense hasn't been the same since their last COVID pause although the Bears may have discovered some things on Friday.

The other key for Wisconsin is to limit the turnovers. Baylor is third in the nation in forcing miscues, doing so on nearly 25 percent of their opponent's possessions. Wisconsin had just seven turnovers on Friday and is now second overall when it comes to teams that give the ball away the least.

Keys for Baylor

Yes, Baylor's big win came over Hartford, but you could see some of the Bears' swagger returning. They didn't look great in the Big 12 Tournament, beating a bad Kansas State team by single digits before giving up a ton of points to Oklahoma State. Mark Vital didn't really do much on Friday because of foul trouble, but Baylor will need his rebounding after collecting more than 40 boards over his previous three games.

The Bears also need to re-discover their stroke from long range. They shot 11-of-33 from 3-point land in the win over Hartford, which is well below their season average of 41.4 percent, which is tops in the country. Wisconsin wasn't really tested in this respect in the first round because North Carolina doesn't shoot a lot of 3-pointers, so this will present a completely different challenge for the Badgers' perimeter defense.

Final Analysis

Both of these teams enter the game feeling good about themselves in easy victories. Wisconsin's NCAA Tournament history has been littered with upset wins over better seeds, but I just don't see it here. The Bears won't let the Badgers get comfortable on offense and Baylor's athleticism will be too much. Remember, Wisconsin's entered the Tournament with just three wins in its last 10 Big Ten games before beating North Carolina on Friday.

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Prediction: Baylor 71, Wisconsin 62

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.