Mack and Taylor had two interesting endings to their respective third round games. Mack was whistled for a foul near midcourt that gave Pitt guard Gilbert Brown an opportunity to win the game at the free throw line with just mere seconds to play. Taylor, who shot just 2-of-16 from the field, recorded a clutch steal that set up Bruesewitz's huge 3-pointer and also blocked Jacob Pullen's last second three that would have tied the game. Look, both players are crucial for their team's success tonight. Taylor, having a bad game last time out, will need to bounce back more though. Mack, who scored 30 against Pitt will need to shy away from critical mishaps.
Gasser didn't really do much in UW's opening win over Belmont, but the freshman bounced back in a huge way against Kansas State. Against Vanzant, a player that averages around eight points a game, plays from Gasser will be absolutely critical. Any offensive production will be welcomed. More importantly, Gasser will need to be defensively sound to help on Mack and company throughout the game.
If ever there was a time for Jarmusz to find some confidence with his stroke the time would be now. Against Kansas State the senior forward scored eight points and didn't miss a shot. If he can exude that same confidence against Butler, you would have to like UW's chances.
Leuer, like Jarmusz, has a ton of confidence in his game right now. Against Butler, you have to like the matchup Leuer will have. He's tall, lanky and versatile. He can put the ball on the floor or hit from outside. Smith is no slouch himself, but at 6-foot-11 it will be interesting to see how he defends a guy like Leuer.
You get the feeling that Bo Ryan would love having Howard on one of his squads. He plays so hard on every single play and played crucial roles in each of Butler's thrilling wins so far this tournament. He'll be as much of a bulldog (excuse the pun) as Nankivil will have seen this season. But as always, will Howard be able to step out and defend Nankivil or Leuer? That remains to be seen.
Nored has proven to be one of the better defenders in this entire field. If he has a chance to match up with Taylor he could likely frustrate the Badger junior. If that were to happen guys like Bruesewitz, Evans and Valentyn will need to step up and make plays.
The wily vet against the up-and-comer storyline never really gets old. What Stevens is doing is pretty spectacular considering the talent he lost a year ago. Ryan, a guy not shy when it comes to taking on opportunity. And with an opportunity to get back to that elusive elite eight on tap, expect Bo to have his guys ready to play tonight.
Thursday, March 24, at approximately 8:57 p.m. CT
New Orleans, LA.
New Orleans Arena (18.,500)
TBS (Gus Johnson, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Marty Snider)
Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas