And just like that, the Wisconsin Badgers, who earned a No. 8 seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament, have made the Sweet 16 for the fourth year in a row. Next up, they will take on No. 4 seed Florida Gators.
While this year’s version of March Madness hasn’t featured major upsets going down early and often, not many people expected the Badgers to advance this far as a result of them having to take on No. 1 seed Villanova, a team that won the title last season, in just the second round of the tourney. Not only did Wisconsin take care of business in its first matchup against No. 9 seed Virginia Tech Hokies, but this team, of course, took down the defending national champs.
As for the Gators, they have been in the spotlight for a good majority of the season (a nine-game winning streak tends to have that effect, which the Gators were riding at one point), so a Sweet 16 spot likely doesn’t come as a surprise. Florida took down No. 13 seed East Tennessee State Buccaneers in the first round and No. 5 seed Virginia Cavaliers in the second.
While the Badgers have arguably the most impressive win in the dance (they knocked off the overall No. 1 seed and defending national champs, after all), the Gators looked unstoppable in the second round, as they only allowed 39 points against the Cavs, and won by 26 points in the process.
Wisconsin and Florida have a ton of momentum entering the Sweet 16 (that tends to be the case when any team, no matter what the seed, makes it to the second weekend of the Big Dance), but only one can advance to the Elite Eight. Before more madness takes place, make sure to get your fix of bold predictions.
Kasey Hill Dishes Out Double-Digit Assists
Kasey Hill is averaging 4.5 assists per game. On the season, he has only reached double figures in the assist department twice, and that is where the bold part of this prediction really comes into play.
Call it a hunch, but Hill will drop 10 or more assists when Florida takes on Wisconsin. For the record, he only has seven total assists in the 2017 NCAA tournament.
Nigel Hayes Is The Lone Bright Spot On Offense For The Badgers
Nigel Hayes had one of the most clutch plays of the tournament against Villanova in the round of 32, and if it weren’t for said clutch play, Wisconsin might not be playing in the second weekend of the tournament.
Clutch play or not, the senior has to come up big if Wisconsin plans on pulling off yet another upset in the dance, and he will do exactly that. For all it’s worth, Hayes is putting up 17.5 points and nine rebounds per game in the tournament (side note: he is averaging 13.8 points and 6.6 boards per contest in 2016-17).
This is bold for the simple fact that players like Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ are more than capable of doing damage on any team in the country. One must remember that the Gators are only giving up 52 points per game in the 2017 NCAA tournament, though.
Nonetheless, look for Hayes to drop 15-plus points and around 10 rebounds against the Gators.
This Sweet 16 Contest Needs Overtime To Find A Winner
Overtime and buzzer-beaters have not been the theme of March Madness 2017 — well, at least not at the time of writing. The tourney is bound to have an overtime at some point, right? Going along with that thinking, this Sweet 16 clash will need overtime to be decided. Who knows, maybe a buzzer-beater will accompany said overtime as well.
Florida might be the No. 4 seed, but Wisconsin is coming off of a victory against arguably the best team in the dance — you might have heard. If the Badgers can, in fact, keep their winning ways alive, they will remain one of the darlings of this year’s version of March Madness.
Regardless, a spot in the Elite Eight awaits the winner of this showdown.
[Featured Image by Elsa/Getty Images]