U.S.

Wisconsin men's basketball: Moments in tournament lore

Wisconsin men's basketball: Moments in tournament lore

"As a program, we've always been kind of underestimated", said Bronson Koenig, a senior point guard.

Only now it's March.

MI was making tough shot after tough shot and the Badgers needed to match that output to keep up. Virginia Tech went a solid 10-8 in ACC play with wins over Duke and Virginia, in addition to a nonconference road triumph at MI to earn an at-large as a nine seed.

What the Hokies and others will see on film of the Badgers is an offense that is hard to stop at times. It proved to be a dry run for the NCAA tournament as they played well for two and a half games before a scoring drought at the start of the second half doomed them against MI.

Like Virginia, Wisconsin has a stingy defense and plays at a slow pace on offense. Zach LeDay led the Hokies with 22 points and 9 rebounds and Seth Allen added 17 points.

While there's a lot of potential back and forth here, Wisconsin's experience and star power should help them find a way to survive and move on to an outing with defending champs Villanova this weekend.

That happened again Wednesday when Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams and his players met with the media.

"I thought they handled that well", Williams said. "I think it speaks to the fabric of what we want to be about".

"I don't think it's overblown at all", Williams said of Wisconsin's edge in experience.


Wisconsin has 6-foot-10 sophomore Ethan Happ (13.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg), one of the five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar center-of-the-year award, and 6-8 senior forward Nigel Hayes (13.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg). It took overtime for the Badgers to beat Minnesota, Rutgers, and Nebraska and while "a win is a win" you don't go to Sweet 16s while being taken to OT by Rutgers.

The Mr. Hyde version of the Cavaliers can't score, ranking No. 313 in points scored per game.

Path to the regional: The Hokies draw roller coaster-riding Wisconsin, which started 21-3 before losing five of seven, then rebounded for a sprint to the Big Ten tourney championship game. only to be upset by MI.

That doesn't necessarily mean they'll be a Final Four threat like some of usual suspects from the conference. When they enter the game, the Hokies look to push the pace and find open threes.

"We practice defense all the time", said Hayes. The Hokies are new to this, while their opponents are as experienced as a tournament team can be.

In a year of heightened expectations, due largely to the return of every key player from a team that made a fun run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament last March, the Badgers have been alternately impressive and disappointing.

Virginia Tech struggles on the glass, as its minus-2.1 rebounding margin ranks 267th in the nation.

Just like snow throughout the winter months in both Madison and Buffalo, that's something the Badgers are used to. As a University student, I commonly get asked by family members and high school friends what to make of this year's Virginia team. "And I think it's really paid off for us".


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