Virginia Tech (22-10) vs Wisconsin (25-9)
When: Thursday, March 16th 2017
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, NY
Time: 9:40 ET | TV: CBS
The Wisconsin Badgers will be playing in their 19th straight NCAA Tournament while the Virginia Tech Hokies are in the Big Dance for the first time in 10 years. The two will meet in Buffalo, New York on Thursday for the right to play No. 1 seed Villanova most likely. Wisconsin was expected to receive a higher seed than eighth, but the loss to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament title game on Sunday, probably hurt. Wisconsin has a very experienced squad with several key players with Final Four experience, including guard Bronson Koenig and forward Nigel Hayes. The Badgers entered Sunday ranked seventh in the nation in points allowed (61.1), but Michigan shot 56.3% from the field and 43.5% from 3-point land in a 15-point defeat. Koenig scored 15 points and made multiple 3’s 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. The Badgers could use a lift from forward Vitto Brown, who has scored in single digits in nine straight games and 13 of his last 14.
Virginia Tech has one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country, ranking 12th at 40.3% 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. The Hokies finished just seventh in the ACC this season, but have some big wins on their resume that includes wins at Michigan and versus Duke, Virginia and Miami FL. Zach LeDay leads five double-digit scorers at 16.3 points and also grabs a team-high 7.4 rebounds, while Seth Allen contributes 13.4 points while making 45.1% of his 3-pointers. Ty Outlaw (48.2% on 3-pointers) and Justin Robinson (42.5%) are two other terrific deep-threats for Virginia Tech. LeDay is averaging 25.7 points on 62 percent shooting in his last three games, while Allen shot 4-of-13 in the Florida State loss after making at least 60% of his shots in the previous six games.
The fact that Virginia Tech can shoot the three should have Wisconsin worried after what Michigan did to them on Sunday, but the Badgers have been here before and their defense has been getting better as the season goes along. The Hokies will keep it close for a half, but the experienced Badgers will pull away for a win and cover.
Pick: Wisconsin -5.5
HEAD TO HEAD
|No trends available.|