The Wisconsin Badgers Pull Off Upset Of Defending National Champions And No. 1 Seed Villanova Wildcats In 65-62 Victory

Tom Withers BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) —Top-seeded Villanova was bounced from the NCAA Tournament by eighth-seeded Wisconsin, which overcame foul trouble for two of its stars in the second half Saturday to upset the defending champions 65-62 in the East region.

Nigel Hayes scored 19 points, dropping a layup in traffic with 11.4 seconds left to put Wisconsin ahead 64-62, and Bronson Koenig added 17 for the tournament-toughened Badgers (27-9), who are going back to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year. They’ll play next week at New York’s Madison Square Garden after knocking off Villanova (32-4).

Josh Hart scored 19 to lead Villanova, but the senior guard was stripped by Wisconsin center Ethan Happ on a drive in the final seconds. Wisconsin’s Vitto Brown then split a pair of free throws with four seconds left, but Villanova couldn’t get off a final shot.

When the final horn sounded, Wisconsin’s red-clad fans erupted in celebration and the Badgers stormed the floor after taking down a No. 1 seed for the third time in four years. Wisconsin beat Arizona in 2014, Kentucky in 2015 and now can add Villanova to its list.

Flushed with pride, Wisconsin coach Greg Gard hugged his wife and children as the Badgers’ pep band played their hearts out.

For Villanova, it’s a bitter end to a great season by the Big East champions, who came into the tournament expected to at least escape the East’s bracket but had their hopes busted and will have to relish those moments from last year when they won their first title since 1985.

Wildcats coach Jay Wright was concerned about Wisconsin, calling them a “great number eight” seed. As it turned out, the Badgers were more than that, as savvy seniors Koenig and Hayes made several key plays in the closing minutes.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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