Hayes, Wisconsin derail defending champ Villanova
The Sports Xchange
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nigel Hayes scored 19 points and made the winning layup with 11.4 seconds remaining as No. 8 seed Wisconsin upset top-seeded Villanova 65-62 on Saturday in an NCAA Tournament second-round game at KeyBank Center.
“Seeds don’t matter,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said after his team beat the top-seeded Wildcats. “I told these guys, I don’t care where we’re seeded. We have to win six games. Let’s start with these two this weekend.”
Bronson Koenig added 17 points, including two late three-pointers, for the Badgers (27-9), who are returning to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season. Ethan Happ had 12 points and eight rebounds and Vitto Brown scored 10 points.
The loss ended top-seeded Villanova’s quest to become the first repeat national champion in 10 years.
Josh Hart had 19 points for the Wildcats (32-4). Donte DiVincenzo added 15 points and Jalen Brunson had 11.
“Give them all the credit,” Hart said. “They’re a heck of a team. They made great adjustments.”
This was Wisconsin’s third victory over a number one seed in the last four years.
“All those games we’ve been the underdog,” Hayes said. “You have all types of ranking systems, statistics, analytics guys that they put. The thing with all those algorithms, they can’t calculate heart, will to win, toughness, desire. They can’t put that into a formula to come out with a percentage chance to win, and that’s the thing that we have.”
Wisconsin shot 53 percent, improving to 17-0 this season when making more than 45 percent of its field goals.
Neither team led by more than eight points in a game that went down to the wire.
After DiVincenzo stole the ball at midcourt and made one of two free throws to tie the score, Hayes drove the baseline and scored on a reverse layup to put Wisconsin ahead 64-62.
Hart worked his way into the paint to try and tie the score for Villanova, but Happ held his ground inside and Hart lost the ball.
Brown was fouled but missed the second of two free throws with 3.4 seconds remaining. DiVincenzo grabbed the rebound, but Villanova was unable to get off a shot.
The Badgers trailed by seven points with six minutes remaining but rallied to tie the game on a Koenig 3-pointer with 3:27 to go. Koenig, who sat for more than 10 minutes of the second half after picking up his fourth foul, hit another 3 to give Wisconsin a 62-59 lead at the 2:00 mark.
Villanova took its first lead since the early stages of the game on Brunson's layup that made it 39-37 with 13:28 remaining. The Wildcats went on a 6-0 run while the Badgers turned the ball over on three straight trips.
Wisconsin shot 54 percent in the first half and led for all but 3:25 of the first 20 minutes. The Badgers took a 20-12 lead, the largest of the game for either team, midway through the half and went into halftime ahead 31-27.
For the second straight NCAA Tournament game, Villanova started slowly, shooting below 30 percent (8 for 27) in the first half. In the first round against 16th-seeded Mount St. Mary's, the Wildcats went 5 for 21 before clawing their way back in the game.
BADGER BITS: Wisconsin has won 13 NCAA Tournament since 2014, the most of any team during that span. ... Villanova lost in the second round as a No. 2 seed in its last NCAA Tournament appearance in Buffalo in 2014. ... Villanova defeated Wisconsin in the only previous meeting between the two schools at the 1995 Maui Invitational.