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Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Badgers mascot "Bucky Badger" dances on the court during a stoppage in play against the Michigan Wolverines in the first half during the Big Ten Conference Tournament championship game March 12 at Verizon Center. The Wolverines won 71-56. (Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)

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Making its 19th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin will square off with Virginia Tech, which is dancing for the first time since 2007. The teams will face off in Buffalo, N.Y., on Thursday in the first round of the East Region with the winner likely taking on top-seeded Villanova in the Round of 32.

Wisconsin, seeded eighth after losing to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament title game on Sunday, received a seed lower than many had expected.

That could serve as extra motivation for the Badgers, who have several key players with Final Four experience, including guard Bronson Koenig and forward Nigel Hayes.

No. 9 seed Virginia Tech features an assortment of quality 3-point shooters and won four of five before falling to Florida State in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.

Coach Buzz Williams has improved the Hokies in all three seasons on their sideline but is down to eight scholarship players heading into the tournament.

TV: 8:40 p.m., CBS

About Virginia Tech (22-10)

The Hokies finished seventh in the ACC this season and have a resume that includes wins at Michigan and versus Duke, Virginia and Miami (Fla.).

Zach LeDay leads five double-digit scorers at 16.3 points and also grabs a team-high 7.4 rebounds, while Seth Allen chips in 13.4 points while making 45.1 percent of his 3-pointers.

Ty Outlaw (48.2 percent on 3-pointers) and Justin Robinson (42.5) are two other terrific shooters for Virginia Tech, which makes 40.3 percent of its long-range shots overall and brings a ton of firepower from its reserves with LeDay and Allen typically coming off the bench.

About Wisconsin (25-9)

The Badgers entered Sunday ranked seventh in the nation in points surrendered (61.1) but allowed Michigan to shoot 56.3 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from the arc in a 15-point defeat.

Koenig delivered 15 points and made multiple 3s for the fifth straight game. Ethan Happ nearly averages a double-double and recorded 14 points and 11 rebounds against the Wolverines while Hayes added 14 points for his second straight double-double.

Tip-ins

1. Wisconsin starting F Vitto Brown has scored in single digits in nine straight games and 13 of his last 14 outings.

2. In his last three games, LeDay is averaging 25.7 points on 62 percent shooting.

3. Allen shot 4-of-13 in the Florida State loss after making at least 60 percent of his shots in six straight games.

Prediction: Wisconsin 69, Virginia Tech 66.

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