Wisconsin Earns First Huge Upset Of NCAA Tournament By Beating VillanovaBy Gladys Abbott Mar 19, 2017
On Saturday, Kris Jenkins - last April's sweet-shooting hero who calmly buried the 3-pointer at the buzzer that made Villanova a national champion - took nine attempts.
Up next for the Badgers is a Sweet 16 matchup with the victor of No. 4 Florida and No. 5 Virginia, as the East Region continues in NY.
When the seeding was announced, many believed Wisconsin was a lot better than an eight seed, and that showed today against the reigning national champs. It's the fourth straight season that Wisconsin has reached the Sweet 16, the last two of which have come with Greg Gard as head coach.
Top-seeded Villanova was bounced from the NCAA Tournament by eighth-seeded Wisconsin, which overcame foul trouble for two of its stars in the second half Saturday to upset the defending champions 65-62 in the East region.
Hart scored 19 points for Villanova (32-4), which fell to 7-1 against the Big Ten conference the last five seasons.
"It helps when your teammates have confidence in you", said Brown, who hit 1 of 2 free throws after being fouled with 3.4 seconds left. Even though many thought the Badgers were under-seeded as an eight, very few saw them upsetting Villanova.
Hart then took it right at the Badgers defense, but never really got a shot off as it was blocked by Ethan Happ. Under Johnson, the No. 1 Badgers (22-2-4 WCHA, 33-2-4 overall) lead the country with 41.3 shots per game.
The Wildcats kept pushing, with Wisconsin missing more free throws and turning over the ball as Happ and Koenig rode the bench.
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Nigel Hayes' go-ahead bucket with 11.2 seconds left put the Badgers up 64-62, though the Wildcats still had a chance in the game's final seconds.
March can be just as cruel as it can be exhilarating. Down the stretch they made two great offensive plays (and) two great defensive stops and that was the difference.
"He had the big-boy trousers on the last couple of weeks", Hart said.
Wright said that Hart, Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds "are three of the greatest Villanova basketball players of all time". But by the time the ball found Jalen Brunson's hands, he hardly had time to manage anything but an aimless, half-strength chuck. Hart guessed he may have cried more two years ago when it all ended too early for the seniors on that team. I think Coach Wright would concur with me on that. I'm proud of our guys. What they've done is incredible. "You're judged by how you play in this tournament ... that's the reality of it (and) you have to accept it". Villanova will have to go back to the drawing board with a number of seniors set to leave. So I think if you are worrying where you get knocked out - which we all have to - but I just worry about the way our guys play.
"To me, there's no dishonor in losing in this tournament", Wright said.
It makes me wonder: What is the legacy of this Villanova team going to be?
The UW players acknowledged they were confused by the seeding, which they expected to be higher.
One Shining Moment, when it shines bright enough, will live on forever, and there will never be a moment that shines brighter than Jenkins' game-winner.
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