Don’t Bet Against Wisconsin in March: (8) Wisconsin defeated (1) Villanova, 65-62, on Nigel Hayes’ game-winner with less than 20 seconds remaining. Greg Gard’s Badgers are headed to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth consecutive season, all with seniors Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Zak Showalter, and Vito Brown.
Villanova, the defending national champions, was the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, and were favorites to reach the Final Four again. Wisconsin’s upset was fueled by Hayes and Koenig who combined for 36 points and 9 rebounds.
Following the game, Hayes spoke to CBS’ Allie LaForce and said “I drove baseline, and if you guys are familiar with the Michael Jordan highlight, the fake spin back? I did my fake spin back, got to my left hand, and fortunately it went in.” The Jordan-esque game-winner was enough to improve the Wisconsin seniors to an incredible 13-3 record in the tournament.
Press Virginia is No Joke: (4) West Virginia has become a Jekyll and Hyde type of team over the last decade after reaching the 2010 Final Four, before getting blown out by Kentucky in the 2015 Sweet Sixteen, and then being upset by Stephen F. Austin last season.
However, now it seems like the Mountaineers have put it all together. Bob Huggins’ team is extremely physical on the defensive end, and forced (5) Notre Dame to commit 14 turnovers, five above their normal average, which ranks in the top-10 in the nation, in the 83-71 victory.
West Virginia will face (1) Gonzaga on Thursday, March 23, in the Sweet Sixteen in San Jose, California. Jevon Carter has been at his best over the last two games, averaging 17.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. If he, along with the other ‘Eers can speed up Gonzaga, West Virginia has a shot at another win.
Michigan is Nearly Untouchable Right Now: It’s a simple theory that everything that goes up must come down, eventually, but right now the Wolverines are flying as high as ever. With their seventh straight victory, dating back to the regular season finale at Nebraska, (7) Michigan is clicking on all cylinders.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2017
(2) Louisville put up a tough fight, losing 73-69, but Moritz Wagner was just too much. He had 26 points on 78.6 percent shooting. D.J. Wilson, Michigan’s “other” big man, was also a key factor, going for 17 points including four clutch free throws in the final seconds.
With the way Derrick Walton Jr. has been playing during their winning streak, connecting on 42.3 percent of long range shots, he, along with Wagner and Wilson can lift the Wolverines to a Final Four berth. Michigan will take on (3) Oregon in the Round of 16.
All Eyes on UCLA vs. Kentucky: Since the two teams squared off on December 3, 2016, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, everyone has waited and wanted a rematch. (3) UCLA came away with the victory in the first edition, 97-92, so (2) Kentucky is out for revenge.
After the official NCAA Tournament bracket was released last weekend, this game has been on everyone’s radar and because of UCLA victories over (14) Kent State and (6) Cincinnati, and Kentucky wins against (15) Northern Kentucky and (10) Wichita State, we will get the matchup we’ve been craving.
Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, T.J. Leaf, and Malik Monk are just some of the names that have the potential to take the game over. The winner will have the pleasure of battling (1) North Carolina or (4) Butler for a chance at a Final Four bid. UCLA hasn’t reached the national semifinals since 2008. Kentucky’s last was in 2015.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 20, 2017
Photo Credit: Sports Teams of Chicago.