How to Watch
When/Where: 2:40 EST; First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist and Jim Spanarkel)
Streaming: March Madness Live
Bets are On
Villanova is favored by -5, according to Oddsshark.
The only prior meeting between these two schools occurred in November 1995, with Villanova defeating Wisconsin 66-58.
The second round of the NCAA Tournament may still elicit a twinge of hesitation among the Wildcat devout, but fans can take solace in the fact that this Villanova squad appears well-geared to take on the Badgers.
Villanova’s major concern will be establishing their pace early on. In their first-round meeting against Mount. St. Mary’s, ‘Nova took a backseat to the Mount’s defense and a result, trailed to the 16-seed for a majority of the first half. While Villanova could “afford” to act responsively on Thursday, such early backseat behavior to Wisconsin’s famed defense-oriented line-up could be too fatal for ‘Nova to easily overcome.
Expect a tough-fought game by the Villanova regulars, particularly from rising-star Donte DiVincenzo. The absence of Omari Spellman and Phil Booth has triggered endless debate as to the downfall of ‘Nova’s ability to repeat a National Championship, yet DiVincenzo seems to have taken it upon himself to mitigate their unavailability.
Putting up his first career double-double, DiVincenzo swarmed both ends of the court to maintain an enthusiastic dominance. Where DiVincenzo sparks like a loose firecracker, sophomore Jalen Brunson and senior Josh Hart provide the maturity and framework for the Wildcat offense to ultimately set-off.
One of Villanova’s biggest agenda items? Stopping Wisconsin’s Bronson Koening, who had a monster game against Virginia Tech. Putting up a career-high 28 points, Koening revealed a penchant for scoring in any form possible—at a time where peak performance is a requirement, Koening brought the necessary offensive heat.
Redshirt sophomore Ethan Happ and senior Nigel Hayes additionally round out the Badgers’ sharp shooting. Joining Koening, all three players are regarded for their versatility and their ability to make contested shots with ease. If the Badgers’ first-round game against the Hokies was any example, expect wildfire shooting to provide an exciting second-round game.