Bound to happen: 1 vs 16 matchup inches closer to an upset
The Badgers are off to the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year. Hayes untied it with a baseline drive, the same Hayes whose putback was the second-biggest basket of Wisconsin's Final Four upset of then-undefeated Kentucky in April 2015. Villanova couldn't event out of the first weekend following a season in which they ran the table to win the title. Sparked by the guard play of Miles Wilson and Elijah Long, the Mountaineers had an 8-point lead early, and trailed by only 1 at the half before falling 76-56.
The Badgers had a bit more challenging of a night, going toe to toe with a solid Virginia Tech team.
Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo grabs a rebound next two Mount St. Mary's forward Chris Wray during the second half.
The Seminoles shot a ridiculous 68.3 percent (28-41) from inside the 3-point line.
Koenig said he got his second wind in the second half Thursday, and it showed.
Wisconsin had other plans.
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"He's a nightmare matchup", Villanova coach Jay Wright said. The Badgers would benefit to get him more involved and a bigger threat on the offensive side of things, especially if Happ has another off night.
Purdue All-American Caleb Swanigan scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to secure his NCAA-best 27th double-double of the year. So far this year Nova has only lost to Butler twice, as well as a two point road loss to Marquette. "When you look at how close these games have been" lately, it's a different story, he said. The Wildcats' win probability never dipped below 92 percent.
Hanging on the wall just outside Villanova's locker room is a sign pointing the players toward the floor. It wouldn't be surprised if the Wildcats, who saw a great defensive team in West Virginia three times in Big-12 play, winning once and losing by just one in the semifinals in the Big-12 Tournament, shock a very well defended Cincinnati team that may be overlooking the eleventh-seeded Wildcats. Against the Badgers and Bronson Koenig, the Wildcats might be advised to be sharp from the get-go. Creighton had great success [against him] early in the year, and they doubled him, big on big, every time. He played three sports very well through high school, including baseball, where he was a pitcher just like first cousin J.A. Happ, who got a World Series ring from the Phillies for his contribution to the 2008 season.
The thing is Wisconsin struggled heavily down the stretch and their offense was at fault on a number of those nights. The Badgers have scored 90 points on a few occasions this year, and the Final Four teams were something fun to watch offensively.
Hayes and Josh Gasser are tied for most games played with the Badgers. Exactly 44 years later, the drought the Gamecocks were one-and-done in their next five appearances finally came to end in front of a boisterous, SC crowd who traveled the 2 hours north from Columbia to witness the end of an ugly run they couldn't have imagined would last this long.
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