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Preview: Wisconsin vs. Villanova

Wisconsin Badgers forward Nigel Hayes (10) is pressured by Virginia Tech Hokies guard Ty Outlaw (42) and guard Justin Robinson (5) in the second half during the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y. (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

The Sports Xchange

There will be plenty of Final Four experience on the court Saturday, when top seed Villanova faces No. 8 seed Wisconsin in the East Region's second round of the NCAA Tournament in Buffalo, N.Y.

The Wildcats won the national championship last season, while the Badgers need to pull off the upset if they have any hopes of returning to the Final Four for the third time in four seasons.

Villanova opened its title defense with a 20-point win against Mount St. Mary's in which the team overcame a dreadful start, missing its first eight shots and not taking a lead until 2:33 remained in the first half.

"I'm not annoyed," Villanova coach Jay Wright told reporters afterward. "I really am shocked, not how Mount St. Mary's played, but that we didn't start the game with energy. We don't have time to figure it out."

The Wildcats likely can't afford another slow start against aBadgers team that topped Virginia Tech on Thursday behind Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, two seniors with a pair of Final Fours on their resume.

"I think it definitely helped a lot for us to have the older guys that we have to have been through some of the runs that we've had in the tournament," Hayes told reporters. "I think it showed with Bronson, the way he responded each time they went on a run. Each time they hit a big shot, he responded with a big shot. And it's something that you need."

TV: 1:40 p.m., CBS

About Wisconsin (26-9)

The Badgers received 28 points from Koenig and a 16-point, 10-rebound effort from Hayes in their opening-round win and only committed eight turnovers in a smooth overall performance.

Koenig made a school-record eight 3-pointers versus Virginia Tech and is shooting nearly 58 percent from beyond the arc over his last six games.

Hayes is eyeing his fourth consecutive double-double and has outperformed his season scoring average (13.6 points) in each of the last three contests.

About Villanova (32-3)

Donte DiVincenzo led the way with 21 points in the opening round as the Wildcats overcame a first half in which they led by one point at intermission to cruise over the final 20 minutes.

Josh Hart, the Big East Player of the Year, was held to modest totals of 11 points and five rebounds, although the bigger concern for Villanova has to be fellow senior Kris Jenkins.

The hero from last season's national title game was 2-of-13 against the Hokies and is 2-of-17 from 3-point range over his last three contests.


1 This is the first meeting in the NCAA Tournament between the teams.

2 Villanova G Jalen Brunson, who scored 14 points on Thursday, is shooting 54.4 percent for the season and just over 60 percent in his last four games.

3 The winner will face either No. 4 seed Florida or fifth-seeded Virginia in the Sweet 16.Wisconsin is the only team in the nation that has advanced to the Sweet 16 in each of the last three years.

Prediction: Villanova 79, Wisconsin 77.