Badgers Face Third Double-Digit Seed In A Row Friday Night

No doubt about it, after one week and 49 NCAA tournament games, the Davidson Wildcats are the nation’s feel-good men’s basketball story, the proverbial Cinderella that shows up in nearly every tournament and busts brackets from coast-to-coast with improbable and exciting upset victories.

Sorry, Davidson, but the clock is about to strike midnight on your Cinderella season. The Wisconsin Badgers are about to make sure of that.

Davidson obviously isn’t the only double-seeded team to survive to this year’s Sweet Sixteen. And as a No. 10 seed, they aren’t even the biggest long shot to get this far, as both Villanova and Western Kentucky had to win two games as a No. 12 seed.

Sorry, Davidson, but you’re about to join the Hilltoppers and the Villanova Wildcats (is every other Division I school nicknamed Wildcats?) as Elite Eight spectators.

Davidson is the toast of college basketball. And why not? They’ve got all the ingredients for a great story. They haven’t been in the Sweet Sixteen since before The Beatles broke up, whereas Villanova has been in 29 NCAA tournaments and was in the Elite Eight just two years ago. Davidson College has an enrollment of about 1,700 students, whereas Western Kentucky University boasts a student body of over 19,000.

Not to mention that in order to keep playing, Davidson has had to beat a seven seed and a two seed. Both Villanova and Western Kentucky were able to take advantage of other upsets, each playing a 13 seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen.

Sorry, Davidson, but you were able to sneak up on Georgetown in a second round game. Bo Ryan will have had five full days to figure you out. His team will be ready.

Davidson features an electrifying player in sophomore guard Stephen Curry, who has proven himself a tremendous clutch player by posting 30 points in the second half in Davidson’s first-round come-from-behind victory against Gonzaga and 25 points in the second half in Davidson’s second-round come-from-behind victory against the Hoyas. Curry also has the built-in appeal of being the son of former NBA star Dell Curry, currently ranked 17th all time in career 3-point field goals made. Curry currently coaches the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, whose roster includes Adam Morrison, a former Gonzaga forward most famous for breaking down in tears two years ago as the Zags lost a close game to UCLA in the 2006 Sweet Sixteen.

Sorry, Stephen, but come Friday night, you’ll be the one crying after a Sweet Sixteen defeat. And they won’t be tears of joy.

Not that Davidson will be an easy out for Wisconsin. If you buy that the Badgers got off easy by drawing the Wildcats, you haven’t been paying enough attention. It’s no accident that Davidson is still playing — they’re riding a 24-game win streak, and their non-conference schedule included close losses to North Carolina, Duke, and UCLA. Friday’s game will be tough for Wisconsin, particularly if they look past Davidson to likely Elite Eight opponent Kansas.

But the Badgers won’t look past the Davidson Wildcats any more than they looked past the Kansas State Wildcats, who they dismantled on Saturday by holding them to their lowest point-total of the season, just as they held first-round opponent Cal State Fullerton to their lowest-point total of the season. Wisconsin’s defense held Kansas State star Michael Beasley to just six points in the second half and kept the Wildcats scoreless from 3-point range, where they shot 0-for-13. It had been 349 games since Kansas State hadn’t nailed at least one three-point shot.

Simply put, there aren’t a whole lot of teams playing better basketball right now than the Badgers, as they are one of only a handful of elite teams (along with North Carolina, Kansas, Louisville, and Washington State) to win their first two tournament games by 15 points. While Davidson’s come-from-behind tournament victories have been impressive, the Badgers have been putting teams away in the second half, outscoring their opponents by a total of 169-126 in the postseason. It would be a shocker if Davidson could repeat their second-half heroics against the Badgers’ No. 1 scoring defense.

Defensively, the Wildcats are average, meaning that the Badgers should be able to run their style of swing offense, taking advantage of whoever has a clear shot: Keep in mind that Wisconsin had three players in double figures against Cal State Fullerton and three players in double figures against Kansas State and not only were none of them the same player but none of them were Marcus Landry, the team’s No. 2 scorer. Wisconsin will spread the ball around, run the shot clock, and take high-percentage shots. Oh, and they can shoot the long ball. Kansas State can attest to that.

On top of all of their on-court advantages, the Badgers and Wildcats will be playing in Big Ten country at Ford Field in Detroit, which promises to be much less of a friendly environment for Davidson than they enjoyed in their first two tournament games which were held just 160 miles from their campus.

So sorry, Davidson. Your team may be Sweet, but it’s simply not Elite. The Wisconsin Badgers will see to that.


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