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Villanova - Wisconsin Preview

VUSports previews Villanova vs. Wisconsin matching up in the second round of the NCAA Tournament (Sat., 2:40 p.m., CBS) ...

Related Video - Second Round Predictions

#1 Seed Villanova takes on #8 Seed Wisconsin in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 2:40 p.m. (TV: CBS, Radio: 610 (WTEL AM) or VUSports Live Chat).

Kenpom predicts a 65-60 win for Villanova with a 67% chance of the Cats winning the game.  ‘Nova leads the all-time series 1-0.  The only previous meeting between the two programs took place in November of 1995 in the Maui Classic.  Villanova won 66-58 and went on to win the Maui Classic Championship over UNC.

The Badgers have the profile of at least a 6 Seed, maybe a 5 Seed.  They finished second in the Big Ten and reached the Big Ten Tournament Championship game.  Wisconsin began the season 21-3 before hitting a rough patch in which they went 1-5 in Big 10 play in February and early March.  They seem to have righted the ship now with four wins in five games including Ws over Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern, and VA Tech.  

‘Nova fans can complain that facing Wisconsin in the second round is the equivalent of moving up the Sweet 16 game a week.  But Badger fans can complain that they should be playing a 3 Seed at best after winning their opening game and they already played a more difficult team in VA Tech than they likely would have faced as a #11 Seed in round one.

Wisconsin has Senior leadership and a ton of NCAA experience.  The Badgers are one of the few teams in the country that play at a slower place than Villanova.  They will not be bothered playing at the Wildcat’s pace.  The Cats may elect to apply some 3/4 court pressure and traps to try to speed the Badgers up a little while also looking to run more frequently to avoid facing the stingy, Badger half-court defense every possession.  Look for Villanova to play some 5-out offensive sets to drag Happ away from the rim and take advantage of the multi-skilled Eric Paschall and Kris Jenkins at the 5 spot.

Taking a look at the Four Factors for each team:

VUSports (data per

a few things stand out:

  • Wisconsin is a solid rebounding team at both ends of the floor
  • The Badgers took good care of the ball
  • Similar to Villanova, Wisconsin does not foul much
  • Wisconsin does not guard the three-point line particularly well

other stats that stand out:

  • Wisconsin is not a great FT shooting team
  • The Badgers are very good at defending inside the arc - the Cats will need to shoot the deep ball well in order to win the game

Wisconsin player thumbnails:

Bronson Koenig (6-3, 190, Sr., 31.2 MPG, 14.5 PPG, 2.1 APG, 41.7% FG, 90.2% FT, 39.3% 3PFG 116.7 ORtg)  Koenig is a consistent deep shooter with proven ability to hit the big shot.  In critical situations he will get the ball - not just because of his clutch shooting from the field but because he is the best FT shooter on the team.  Try to deny him the ball on key inbound plays and foul someone else immediately.

Nigel Hayes (6-8, 240, Sr., 32.1 MPG, 13.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 44.8% FG, 59.8% FG, 30.9% 3PFG,108.7 ORtg)  Hayes is good at drawing fouls and is an efficient scorer from inside the arc.  He is inconsistent from deep - look for the Cats to let him shoot it more from the outside and try to avoid letting him get touches within 15 feet.

Ethan Happ (6-10, 232, So., 27.8 MPG, 13.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 58.3% FG, 49.4% FT, 112.0 ORtg)  Ranks statistically as the 7th best player in the nation per Kenpom.  Don’t be afraid to “Hack a Happ” in exchange for an easy lay-up.  Make the sub-.500 FT shooter earn them at the stripe.  Happ is efficient on offense, a very good rebounder on both ends of the floor, a skilled shot-blocker, and a post player that gets a lot of steals.  Happ gets to the free-throw line with consistency.  Darryl Reynolds will have his hands full dealing with Happ.  ‘Nova may look to force him to cash guys around defensively and try to run him out of gas.

Zak Showalter (6-3, 185, Sr., 29.1 MPG, 8.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 50% FG, 83% FT, 40.7% 3PFG,  125.4 ORtg)  Showalter has plenty of experience and plays with efficiency on offense.  If you leave him adequate time and space - he will launch and drain the three-ball.  If you get up in his grill he can drive it a little bit too.  Showalter is the best free-throw shooter on the team not named Bronson.  Not a primary scoring option.

Vitto Brown (6-8, 235, Sr., 20.8 MPG, 6.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 39.3% FG, 75.9% FT, 30.5% 3PFG, 98.4 ORtg)  Brings defense, shot-blocking and grit to the court for Wisconsin.  Brown likes to do the dirty work and had the ability to finish around the rim.

D’Mitrik Trice (6-0, 178, Fr., 18.7 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 38.7% FG, 78.9% FT, 42.7% 3PFG, 107.9 ORtg)  You don’t want to leave this Frosh open from beyond the arc - he can make you pay for losing track of where he is.  Trice is not nearly as effective when you get him on the move or force him to shoot somewhere other than the arc.  He grabs a fair number of steals as well.

Khalil Iverson (6-5, 212, So., 14.6 MPG, 3.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 53.3% FG, 57.7% FT, 30.8% 3PFG, 105.8 ORtg)  Not a threat from beyond the arc.  Not a great free-throw shooter.  Iverson is not a primary scoring option - he is a role player looked upon for defense, setting picks and getting opportunity buckets.

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