Wisconsin basketball fans might not like where the Badgers ended up in the NCAA Tournament, but the reality is that a quality Virginia Tech team lies in wait — 8-seed deserved or not.
The Badgers will kick off their March Madness run on Thursday in Buffalo at 8:40 p.m. CT / 9:40 p.m. ET on CBS, facing a resurgent Hokies program coached by a very familiar face in former Marquette coach Buzz Williams.
You can read up more on Virginia Tech’s team here, but the short of it is that the Hokies are playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2007, held their own in a stacked ACC and make up for what they lack in size with 3-point shooting. Williams is very familiar with coach Greg Gard and Wisconsin’s program, as Gard said on Monday.
Barring a shock of historic proportions, the winner of Wisconsin-Virginia Tech will get a chance at taking down the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed in Villanova on Saturday.
Wisconsin-Virginia Tech game time, details for 2017 NCAA Tournament
Date: Thursday, March 16
Time: 8:40 p.m. CT / 9:40 p.m. ET
Location: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y.
The line: Wisconsin is favored by 5.5 points.
The odds: KenPom gives Wisconsin a 66-percent chance to win.
What TV channel is Wisconsin-Virginia Tech basketball on?
The game will be on CBS.
How can I watch Wisconsin-Virginia Tech basketball online?
CBS will live-stream the game at CBSSports.com, as well as on the CBS Sports app.
How can I listen to Wisconsin-Virginia Tech basketball on the radio?
The Wisconsin call for the game will be on the Badger Sports Network. A list of affiliates can be found here and the game can be heard online here. The affiliates for Virginia Tech’s radio network and an online stream are located here.
Who are the announcers for Wisconsin-Virginia Tech basketball?
Verne Lundquist and Jim Sparnakel will call the game with Allie LaForce reporting.
Wisconsin-Virginia Tech 2017 NCAA Tournament preview
Virginia Tech has only one player in its rotation taller than 6-foot-7, the 6-foot-10 Khadim Sy — and he averages only 11.4 minutes per game. That’s very good news for a Wisconsin offense that’s going to want to ride Ethan Happ as much as possible during this tournament. The Hokies should be able to somewhat compensate with double-teams on Happ, but that size disparity remains Wisconsin’s No. 1 advantage in this matchup. It should also help them blot out the boards against the Hokies, who have posted rebounding numbers this season that are mediocre at best.
Guard the perimeter
Wisconsin size might help it on offense, what’s going to hurt in on defense is a perimeter defense that ranked third-to-last in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage allowed. Meanwhile, the Hokies led the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage and boast four different players that have made more than 50 shots from deep this season. The Badgers should be fine against whichever player Zak Showalter is guarding, but it could get hairy when Bronson Koenig, D’Mitrik Trice or a big man are expected to cover quality shooters. The defense should at least be buoyed by the return of Khalil Iverson, who missed two games in the Big Ten Tournament due to a death in the family.
Make your free throws
Though it didn’t cost them in the Big Ten Tournament, the Badgers remain second-to-last in the Big Ten in free-throw percentage with a rough 64.4 mark. As Wisconsin hits that beautiful time of year when nearly every game is close and played down to the last minute, often by intentionally fouling, expect that mark to be displayed during crunch time of every broadcast. Most of the angst should be reserved for the two Badgers fouled more than any other: Happ (50-percent shooter) and Nigel Hayes (58.5 percent).