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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Villanova Wildcats: NCAA Tournament Second Round Preview and Prediction
November 22 2017, 06:17 | Van Peters
Konezny and USA TODAY Sports
As a team, Wisconsin shot 19/25 (76%) from the free throw line, had 19 assists, just eight turnovers, and out-rebounded the Hokies by 12.
The second round of the NCAA Tournament may still elicit a twinge of hesitation among the Wildcat devout, but fans can take solace in the fact that this Villanova squad appears well-geared to take on the Badgers.
The foul-plagued Koenig had returned from an 8-minute absence with just over five minutes left and hit a jumper that cut the Wisconsin deficit to 57-54.
Redshirt sophomore Ethan Happ and senior Nigel Hayes additionally round out the Badgers' sharp shooting.
Here - not one full year after Kris Perkins inbounded to Ryan Archidiacano, who flashed upcourt and fed a trailing Perkins for the championship-winning shot - was what happened the final three times Villanova actually had the ball in its hands Saturday. With their win, the Badgers will advance to the Sweet 16 in the East region.
But hey, even though Villanova wasn't able to win back-to-back titles, no one can take last year's away.
Showalter said that the Badgers will make adjustments as to who guards whom on the fly. That offensive outburst was a key reason the Badgers advanced and Wisconsin could use another strong outing from their senior leader.
And it seems odd to say yesterday's game shows they're in trouble when Villanova struggled in its opening game last season, too.
Point guard Jalen Brunson, who started 39 games as a freshman, has fit in from Day 1. And for a while the Mountaineers got the better of Villanova.
However, attacking Wisconsin's stellar defense with tempo and seeking scoring opportunities in the open court will be critical.
"They have been in this atmosphere and ultimately they have belief", UW associate head coach Lamont Paris said. Villanova shook its one-or-two-and-down reputation with the school's first title since the near miraculous one in 1985, when coach Rollie Massimino's crew dropped mighty Georgetown.
Hayes has been a bit of an enigma in the two seasons since Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker left for the National Basketball Association and he became the de facto focal point of UW's offense. There's been a lot of teams having a hard time keeping them out of the paint. The best player that they faced during that title run was Buddy Hield, an incredible story that provided the National Basketball Association world with some much-needed comedic relief when he was the centerpiece of the DeMarcus Cousins trade. For this game the Wildcats might be best off getting on their horses and taking off at a high tempo to break some of what the Badgers do on defense. The committee's handling of the Big Ten (B1G!) was baffling, and as a result, it will be No. 1 Villanova and No. 8 Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon in Buffalo.
"I told them we were all proud of them", Jay Wright said.