After Wisconsin and Villanova’s victories on Thursday night, the two are set to face off against one another on Saturday afternoon to see who moves on to the Sweet 16. Tip-off is at 1:40 p.m. and will be televised on CBS. According to FiveThirtyEight, Wisconsin has a 21% chance to win the game.
G: Bronson Koenig (14.5 PPG, 2.1 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (8.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG)
F: Nigel Hayes (13.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.8 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (6.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG)
C: Ethan Happ (13.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.8 APG)
G: Jalen Brunson (14.8 PPG, 4.2 APG)
G: Mikal Bridges (10.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG)
F: Josh Hart (18.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.0 APG)
F: Kris Jenkins (13.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG)
F: Darryl Reynolds (4.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG)
It’s hard to find a team that is more experienced than the Badger seniors with two Final Fours and a Sweet Sixteen under their belt. However, Villanova is perhaps the only team that can rival the Badgers’ experience.
The reigning National Champions finished the season 31-3 with both the Big East regular-season and tournament crowns on their way to earning the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
Josh Hart has been one of the best all-around players in the NCAA this year. The senior averages 18.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 3.0 APG. Hart’s sidekicks, Jalen Brunson and Kris Jenkins, are both versatile players that make Villanova really tough to guard. All three players are excellent shooters from the outside.
Bronson Koenig is coming off of a career-high 28 point outing in which he hit eight threes (a school record) on seventeen attempts. When Koenig shoots the ball that well, the Badgers are a completely different team. The Badgers scored 84 points on Thursday night, their most since they scored 89 points against Ohio State on January 12th.
Villanova is a guard-heavy, fast-tempo team. As strong as they are on the outside, Ethan Happ may be a mismatch for the Badgers inside without the Wildcats having a really strong inside presence.
This is a matchup that seems like it should not be taking place until the Sweet 16, as some would argue that the Badgers were criminally under-seeded by the committee. As unfair as it was to the Badgers, it may have just been unfair to Villanova. No matter how you split it, regular season or conference tournament, the Badgers were the second best team in the Big Ten. The number one overall seed probably should never have to face the second-best Big Ten team in the Round of 32.
Virginia Tech gave Wisconsin their best shot in the Round of 64, but the Badgers were able to come out victorious, 84-74, after playing well down the stretch. Villanova beat No. 16 seed Mount St. Mary’s 76-56, but they struggled to separate themselves during the first half. The Wildcats went into halftime up just one point.