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 live updates, score from 2017 NCAA Tournament
Wisconsin-Virginia Tech NCAA Tournament preview
Badgers looking to prove they’re underseeded
Many observers were surprised on Selection Sunday when Wisconsin received only a No. 8 seed. The Badgers were in the top 25 for much of the year and, despite a poor finish to the regular season, made the finals of the Big Ten Tournament.
So when Wisconsin takes the floor Thursday, the team will be out to show why the selection committee messed up. A blowout win could send the message that the Badgers don’t belong in the 8-9 matchup at all.
Ethan Happ needs to be a star
Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ broke out this season, averaging 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds a game and earning first team All-Big Ten honors.
Happ particularly stepped up in the Big Ten Tournament, putting up 14 and 12 against Indiana, 16 and 8 against Northwestern and 14 and 11 against Michigan.
When Wisconsin is at its best, Happ is right in the middle of everything, scoring by the basket and dominating the glass. The Hokies will try to contain him, but that’s much easier said than done.
Wisconsin must contain Virginia Tech’s 3-point shooting
The Hokies are one of the better 3-point shooting teams Wisconsin has run into this year, having made 40.2 percent of their shots from long-range.
Though numerous Virginia Tech players can shoot, the guy to really watch is senior guard Seth Allen, who made a career high 45.1 percent of his 3s while averaging 13.4 points per game.
Ahmed Hill, Justin Robins, Ty Outlaw and Justin Bibbs can all also fire from distance, making Virginia Tech a tough team to guard. If the Hokies get hot from beyond the arc, it could be a tough night for Wisconsin.