Coming into the tournament, the Wisconsin Badgers were given a rare deal. They got handed a brutal under-seeding by the committee, landing an 8-seed while conference mate Minnesota — who Wisconsin beat twice — got a five.
Nonetheless, Nigel Hayes converted a baseline layup in the closing seconds to give the Wisconsin the lead, and then Vitto Brown’s steal and free throw sealed it as the No. 8 seed Badgers knocked off the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats 65-62 in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Buffalo, New York.
Villanova, the defending NCAA champion, is out. and now advances to the Sweet 16 in New York.
How it Occurred
Wisconsin controlled much of the first half playing without star sophomore Ethan Happ who was battling foul trouble. They would take a four-point lead into the intermission.
In the second half, the Wildcats would find themselves by attacking the basket. They would grab the lead with 12:50 in the contest. Nova’s lead increased to seven after Donte DiVincenzo’s 3-pointer gave the ‘Cats a 57-50 lead with 5:30 to play.
Wisconsin would then close the game on a 15-5 run.
Hayes’ layup put Wisconsin on top 64-62. Villanova (34-4) then called timeout with 11.4 seconds to play. After the timeout, Villanova star Josh Hart drove to the basket, but Wisconsin’s Vitto Brown got a clean steal. He was fouled with 3.4 seconds left and headed to the line. The first free throw was good, but Brown missed his second attempt. Villanova grabbed the rebound, but the Wildcats weren’t able to get a good shot off.
Hayes led Wisconsin with 19 points, while Bronson Koenig hit 3 out of 6 three-pointers and finished with 17 points.
Both teams struggled with their shots throughout much of the game. Wisconsin hit just six of its eighteen threes, while Villanova went five for sixteen. It was a battle contested mostly on the inside. Hayes, in particular, was outstanding owning the mid-range against Villanova’s defenders and drive the ball to the hoop.
For Villanova its a very bitter end for seniors Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Darryl Reynolds Wildcat careers. However, they were the winningest class in the University’s history.
Heading into the game, Hart had called Wisconsin “very dangerous,” noting the Badgers’ balanced attack. His prediction proved true, and the Badgers advanced to their fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance.