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Wisconsin upsets Villanova

Autore: Manuel Follis
Data: 19 Mar, 2017

King of the upset

In April 2015, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig scored 12 points each to end Kentucky‘s perfect season. It was the biggest surprise of the Final Four, the least expected outcome. The win over Villanova from last night does not have the same impact, but the Wildcats had everything to repeat, the first team that could have done it since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Villanova had a 7-point lead with 5 minutes left and Wisconsin seemed unable to stop the defending champions. Until Koenig and Hayes went on to score 12 of their final 36 combined points in the 15-5 run that turned the game in favor of the Badgers. That final run came despite the two guards shooting 7-of-16 on free throws and 6-of-18 from beyond the arc with 14 turnovers and a went through foul troubles the whole game.

Michael Jordan? Just Nigel Hayes

Vitto Brown made a huge defensive play and stripped Josh Hart of the ball (good job by the referees with the no call), but the game winner came courtesy of Nigel Hayes


“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”, Hayes said. Here is the original, but the imitation worked just fine for the Badgers.


A players fiasco

Coach Jay Wright had said Wisconsin was “the greatest eight seed I’ve ever seen” and he was right. Wisconsin did play a great game. Villanova still had plenty of opportunities to win. The loss is on those players who were never a factor in this game. To be clear: the first basket from a player not called Josh Hart or Donte DiVincenzo was scored by Kris Jenkins 13 minutes into the game, after the same Jenkins saw 6 shots clank off the rim. The 2016 hero is leading the no-show group: 4-for-22 from the field, 0-for-8 from beyond the arc in the two tournament games combined, outmatched against Nigel Hayes and no signs of leadership on the court. Darryl Reynolds and Mikal Bridges scored 2 points combined. Hart scored 19 points in his last college game, finishing his career with Jenkins and Reynolds with a 129-17 overall record and a title.

Gonzaga holding on

Gonzaga played one half as a true first seed and Nigel Williams-Goss got back to his standards (20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists) and that was enough to advance to the Sweet 16. The Bulldogs even had a 22 point lead, but Northwestern mounted a furious comeback, cutting the deficit down to 5 points, behind Vic Law‘s 18 points on 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Wildcats became enamored with three-point shooting (8-for-24 as a team) despite being a 34% three-point shooting team, and that probably costed them the game. Zach Collins was great once again (14 points and 5 rebounds), proving to be a huge part of the present as well as the future for Gonzaga.

Arizona sweats it out

Saint Mary’s did try to run away in the first half, but Arizona figured it out in the second 20 minutes, scored 40 points on 59.1% shootiung and Allonzo Trier had 9 points in the 11-2 run that gave the Wildcats the lead for good. It was a double-double fight between Lauri Markkanen (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Jock Landale (19 points, 11 rebounds), two of the best frontcourt players in the tournament. The Gaels had a great start but turnovers (13 for the game) and a bad three-point shooting night (5-for-21 for the game, 40% for the season) were crucial in the loss.

Xavier’s perfect game

The season-ending injury to Edmond Sumner could undermine the confidence of the team, but Chris Mack proved once again to be a great coach and led Xavier to the Sweet 16 with a 91-66 win over Florida State. The 25-point margin is indicative of the difference between the two teams. The Musketeers initially built the lead thanks to their match-up zone defense, with Florida State completely out of sync and unable to find answers on offense. On the other side of the floor, Xavier played a great game, creating open shots from the perimeter, looking for the extra pass and making the right players every time. Trevon Bluiett quietly had a 29-point night, and if the supporting cast had to keep this level of efficiency, Xavier is a serious candidate to the Cinderella role.

Mr Double-Double can’t be stopped

The only game of the Midwest regional had Purdue winning 80-76 over Iowa State in a game dominated by offense. The first 30 minutes were all about the Boilermakers, then Monte Morris and Deonte Burton mounted a run that got the Cyclones a 2-point lead. The final minutes of the game became the perfect stage for Vincent Edwards and Caleb Swanigan. It seems redundant to talk once again about latter, but Swanigan is the kind of player whose impact goes way beyond his excellent statistics. He is so good that a 20-point, 12-rebound, 7-assist performance seems routine. Truth is, every time he touches the ball, good things happen for Purdue. For the record, the game against Iowa State was his 28th double-double of the season, the all-time record for a Big Ten player. And it’s not over yet. The video below is a taste of things to come.


Virginia in the Iron Maiden

It is hard to explain such a terrible Virginia performance against  Florida. Nine players completely devoid of energy spent 40 minutes walking around on offense and running after opponents on defense. No players reached double figures, 17 total points in the first half, 39 for the game (1 higher than the all-time low in Tony Bennett’s 8 years coaching Virginia) 16-for-54 from the field, 1-for-15 from beyond the arc. Florida’s players would have never thought to win this game so easily. A very good game for Devin Robinson once again, notice how smooth his shooting motion is.

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