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Late rally pushes Badgers into "Sweet 16" (AUDIO)
21 March 2017, 12:41 | Rodolfo Wallace
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
SENIOR CITIZENS: Wisconsin seniors Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes will be playing in their 16th NCAA Tournament games on Saturday.
In the last five years, only four games have come down to single digits, including Gonzaga's too-close-for-comfort 64-58 win over Southern in 2013, the last time the Bulldogs were a 1 seed. Before the game, Villanova coach Jay Wright said he was surprised that Wisconsin was an 8-seed, and the Badgers made his comments seem prophetic on Saturday.
The Badgers head to Madison Square Garden for Friday's game.
"This one is more stunning to these guys than crushing", said Wright. Every time you win and you get a chance to advance, cherish it. "Nigel had big plays throughout the game but that isolation when he scored that layup was huge for us". "We've been on the other end of that a lot". Wright has done a masterful job in validating the program with last year's championship, and he has established himself as a terrific coach and making Villanova a national power. And just as in the win over Virginia Tech, Wisconsin was able to hold its own without him, outscoring Villanova 19-15 heading into halftime.
ESPN analyst Dan Dakich pointed to the No. 1 reason for UW's late-game success-experience.
Everything has to go just right for a team to prevail in March Madness, to be the school that gets to be in the happy final scene on the telecast as they play the song, "One Shining Moment".
"To be honest, I still haven't processed it", Reynolds said in the Villanova locker room.
"We're going to ride them as far as they take us", he said. It's insane to think that it's actually over, and you have to admit that to yourself. We've obviously endured a short roster all year long. "Right now, it sucks". We will never know.
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The way this season has gone, players never seem to be the ones who get the sack. "I get abuse at every stadium that I turn up at. When people are trying to cut your missus up while she's driving, with the kids in the back of the auto , it's not the best".
There's still plenty of games to be played, but the door is open - particularly in the East - for a low-seeded team to make a run. But this loss, of course, is the game they'll remember.
"I told these guys I don't care where we're seeded". We were counted out after Omari and Phil, so I'm proud of these dudes. Over four years, he has done it all, seen it all. Hayes was asked on ESPN Radio about how the Badgers' seniors can help the younger players going into their fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance.
Sindarius Thornwell had 29 points and 11 rebounds to lead seventh-seeded SC to a 93-73 victory over Marquette to close first-round play in the East Region on Friday night. Villanova was going to have to make fundamental mistakes to lose. They even blew out another No. 8 seed, Northwestern, in the Big Ten Tournament. To be that successful on the court and represent the University like they do, is something special.
But as Villanova knows better than anyone, getting that top seed guarantees you nothing when March rolls around. "You want to be like Kris and Josh and Darryl".
"This senior class has been through everything there is to go through in terms of a basketball career", senior forward Vitto Brown said.
"He had the big-boy trousers on the last couple of weeks", Hart said. "I love these dudes 'till death".
"Yeah I think taking care of the ball is one thing we've addressed". We accomplished so much as people and that's something that no one will take away from us. "That's something no-one ever sees". They produced again this year. "So we went for silly".
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