Wisconsin Sports

Freshmen key in Wisconsin-Kentucky matchup

4/4/14 - Live Badger Coverage: Freshmen key in Wisconsin-Kentucky matchup

ARLINGTON, Texas (WKBT) - It's safe to say freshmen players will have a huge role in Wisconsin's matchup against Kentucky in the national semifinals.

Kentucky will be the first team since the 1992 Michigan Wolverines to start five freshmen at the Final Four. The Badgers don't have quite the "Fab Five," but they do have a "Terrific Two:" Nigel Hayes and Aquinas graduate Bronson Koenig.

"I think the game's kind of slowed down for me a bit, so naturally if the game's slowed down, I feel more comfortable," Koenig said. "When I make my first shot, that gives me a lot more confidence to be shooting. As of late, I've been shooting the ball a little better so just getting out there and making plays."

"We just do what we can," Hayes said. "We don't start like the other Kentucky freshmen but I guess that doesn't mean we're not as good as them and that doesn't mean we can't do the things they do for their team. We're just in a position where we come off the bench and contribute and Bronson's been doing great this year."

Koenig and Hayes will probably be sticking around the Wisconsin program for a couple of years. You can't say that about the Kentucky freshmen. A few of them will be off to the NBA after Final Four week concludes, or what many call "one and done" players.

"Frank Sinatra, wasn't that the song? We did it our way? I mean everybody's doing it their way. If you're a coach, and here's the landscape, you do it the best way you can," said Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan.

"The connotation is, no one wants to put their arms around this, and I don't care if you do or not. This is about the kids to me. And so when I said, why don't we make this about succeed and proceed-- if you don't succeed, you can't proceed. If you do succeed, you can proceed. That's just how it is," Kentucky head Coach John Calipari said.

"If I had a guy that had a real good season and left, that's OK," Ryan said. "As long as he was a student, and of course at our place, you don't have an option."

Saturday night, we'll see which approach will get their program into Monday's national championship game.

Top Sports Videos

Latest Sports Headlines

This Week's Circulars