No Crying Over Brackets, Nova and Northwestern Are Out

19 Mar, 2017

Nigel Hayes scored 19 points and made the winning layup with 11.4 seconds remaining as eight seed Wisconsin upset defending champion Villanova 65-62 in an NCAA Tournament second-round game on Saturday.

“Seeds don’t matter,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said after his team beat the top-seeded Wildcats. “I told these guys, I don’t care where we’re seeded. We have to win six games. Let’s start with these two this weekend.”

Bronson Koenig added 17 points, including two late three-pointers, for the Badgers (27-9), who are returning to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season. Ethan Happ had 12 points and eight rebounds and Vitto Brown scored 10 points.

The loss ended top-seeded Villanova’s quest to become the first repeat national champion in 10 years.

Josh Hart had 19 points for the Wildcats (32-4). Donte DiVincenzo added 15 points and Jalen Brunson had 11.

“Give them all the credit,” Hart said. “They’re a heck of a team. They made great adjustments.”

This was Wisconsin’s third victory over a number one seed in the last four years.

“All those games we’ve been the underdog,” Hayes said. “You have all types of ranking systems, statistics, analytics guys that they put. The thing with all those algorithms, they can’t calculate heart, will to win, toughness, desire. They can’t put that into a formula to come out with a percentage chance to win, and that’s the thing that we have.”

Wisconsin shot 53 percent, improving to 17-0 this season when making more than 45 percent of its field goals.

Neither team led by more than eight points in a game that went down to the wire.

After DiVincenzo stole the ball at midcourt and made one of two free throws to tie the score, Hayes drove the baseline and scored on a reverse layup to put Wisconsin ahead 64-62.

Hart worked his way into the paint to try and tie the score for Villanova, but Happ held his ground inside and Hart lost the ball.

Brown was fouled but missed the second of two free throws with 3.4 seconds remaining. DiVincenzo grabbed the rebound, but Villanova was unable to get off a shot.

The Northwestern coach was also wrong. At the worst time possible.

After not getting the call, Collins stomped onto the court and drew a technical foul with 4:54 left in Saturday’s game, sucking life out of a frenetic comeback that fell short in a 79-73 loss to top-seeded Gonzaga.

What a strange, heartbreaking way to close out the school’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Adding to the awkwardness: The NCAA released a statement acknowledging the call was missed, and Collins was sitting at the postgame news conference when he learned about it for the first time.

“I appreciate the apology,” Collins said, the venom practically dripping off his tongue. “It makes me feel great.”

Nigel Williams-Goss finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists to power Gonzaga (34-1), which led by as many as 22 points in the first half, then saw the lead dwindle to five with a little more than 5 minutes left.

The arena, drenched in purple, was rocking, and all the momentum was in Northwestern’s corner.

The eighth-seeded Wildcats (24-12) got the ball down to Dererk Pardon for a point-blank shot that was on its way in. Gonzaga 7-footer Zach Collins reached up through the net and deflected the ball out. No whistle blew. Gonzaga got the rebound and started down court. Collins ran onto the court, charged toward the referee and gestured as if he were knocking a ball out of the hoop from the bottom.

An automatic “T.” The NCAA’s postgame statement also said Collins was hit with the technical for violating “bench decorum” rules by stepping onto the court with the ball in play.

On the other end, Williams-Goss made both free throws. Northwestern never got closer after that.


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