Wisconsin entered the 2014 NCAA Tournament a popular pick to reach the Final Four for the first time under Bo Ryan largely because the Badgers feature a more dynamic and diverse offense than previous teams.

So how did UW, seeded No. 2 in the West Regional, overcome an early seven-point deficit against No. 15 American University on Thursday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center?

With defense, of course.

UW held American to a season-low total in points and only 37 field-goal attempts en route to a 75-35 victory in the second round in front of a pro-UW crowd.

The Badgers closed the first half with a 19-3 run to establish a 32-22 halftime lead and then opened the second half with a 21-3 run to push the lead to 53-25 with 11 minutes 6 seconds left.

UW's 40-point margin of victory was a program record in an NCAA Tournament game. The previous mark was 24, set in 2012 against Montana.

"It is great that we can win in different ways," UW junior guard Josh Gasser said after contributing seven points, four assists and sticky defense on American guard Jesse Reed. "This year's team, yea we can score a little bit better.

"But still we pride ourselves on the defensive end. We pride ourselves on winning 50-50 balls and kind of being the aggressor.

"We say it all the time that the ball's not always going to drop, so you've got to win games in other ways sometimes."

UW (27-7), which lost its opening NCAA Tournament game last season, advances to face No. 7 Oregon (24-9), a 87-68 winner over No. 10 BYU on Thursday. Starting time is to be determined late Thursday.

American (20-13), hit 7 of its first 11 shots to take a 19-13 lead with 8 minutes 48 seconds left in the first half.

UW tightened its defense and held the Eagles to 16 points and 4-of-26 shooting over the final 28:47 of the game.

The Eagles, whose previous low point total was 44, had three second-half field goals – with 19:04 left, 5:19 left and 2:16 left.

"With that Princeton offense they like to grind teams up and get teams spun around," UW said sophomore forward Sam Dekker, who was banged on the right knee in the second half but expects to practice Friday and play Saturday. "We did a good job staying focused and keeping our guys in front of us.

"People talk about our offense but our defense (transitions) so well into our offense.

"When we get stops and we're focused on defense we're so much better on offense."