Badgers Basketball Sweet 16 Preview

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Alex Nannetti and Kyle Hoeppner

The Wisconsin Badgers basketball team has the most NCAA Tournament wins than any other school in the nation, over the past four years. The Badgers look to continue that streak on Friday, March 24th at 9:00 pm CT after delivering the tournament’s biggest upset to the defending champions, the Villanova Wildcats, back on March 18th.

The eighth-seeded Badgers (27-9) are the only team to reach the Sweet 16 in each of the past four tournaments, and may reach the Elite Eight for the third time in four years if they beat the fourth-seeded Florida Gators in the East Region semifinals at Madison Square Garden, in New York.

The Gators (26-8) easily handled the Virginia Cavaliers in their second game, but even as convincing as a 65-39 victory doesn’t compete with what Wisconsin was able to do in the second round.

Top-seeded Villanova led by seven points with around five minutes remaining and looked to finish off the Badgers. Wisconsin, in response, closed in with a 15-5 run for a 65-62 win over the Wildcats. Badgers forward Nigel Hayes scored the most points for the team that game with 19, as well as scoring the game winner.

Wisconsin didn’t appear like a team capable of making it far in the tournament when they lost five of six games late in the regular season. But UW turned it around by winning five of their past six games, defeating Virginia Tech Hokies in the first round before their huge upset of Villanova.

Now they are looking for their 14th NCAA win over the last four years against a Florida squad that won its first two tournament games by an average of 20.5 points.

The upset of Villanova elevated the Badgers into the trendy pick to also knock off the Gators.

 

Arrowhead senior Chris Marmes said “ I think the Badgers will win against Florida, they are a good group led by some great players”.

The Badgers are also known for sharing the ball behind a well-balanced attack. Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig averages a team-best 14.5 points and made a school-record 100 3-pointers. Koenig also holds the school mark of 267 career 3-pointers and has drained 31 of those in NCAA tourney play.

Arrowhead senior Matt Brockish said “ I think the Badgers will win, but it will be a close game. In the end, they’ll find a way to advance to the next round.  

This is the fifth meeting between Wisconsin and Florida. The Badgers won the most recent encounter 59-53 early in the 2013-14 season when Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) and Billy Donovan (Gators) were the coaches.

Hopefully Wisconsin can pull away with the win and make some more history.