Florida Gators vs. Wisconsin preview: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

What to know: (4) Florida Gators basketball vs. (8) Wisconsin Badgers

Game Information

When: Friday, March 24, 2017, at 9:59 p.m. (ET)

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, N.Y.

Records: Florida (26-8, 14-4 SEC); Wisconsin (27-9, 12-6 Big Ten)

Coaches: Mike White- 47-23 (2nd season at Florida), 148-63 (6th season overall); Greg Gard- 42-17 (2nd season at Wisconsin/overall)

TV: TBS

Radio: Gator IMG Sports Network

Projected Starters

FloridaPos.Ht.Wt.ClassPer Game
Devin RobinsonF6-8200Junior11.4 pts / 6.3 reb
Justin Leon      F6-8206Senior7.1 pts / 3.9 reb
kevarrius hayesC6-9218Sophomore6.1 pts / 4.3 reb
Kasey hillG6-1175Senior9.7 pts / 4.5 asts
Kevaughn allenG6-2183Sophomore13.4 pts / 2.5 reb

 

wisconsinPos.Ht.Wt.ClassPer Game
nigel hayesF6-8240Senior13.8 pts / 6.6 reb
ethan happF6-10232R-Sophomore13.8 pts / 9.1 reb
vitto brownF6-8235Senior6.8 pts / 3.9 reb
zak showalterG6-3185R-Senior8.1 pts / 2.8 reb
bronson koenigG6-3190Senior14.5 pts / 2.1 reb

 

Preview

Wisconsin lost five of its last seven games in the regular season before making a run in the Big Ten Tournament to finish runner-up behind Michigan. The Badgers also finished second in the conference in the regular season.

To make it to the Sweet 16, Wisconsin defeated No. 9 seed Virginia Tech 84-74 in the first round of the tournament. To the surprise of many, the Badgers knocked off No. 1 overall seed and defending national champion Villanova in the Round of 32, leaving Florida as the only team in the last decade to win back-to-back titles (2006-07).

Florida defeated East Tennessee State and Virginia in its first two games of the tournament, both by 15 points or more. The Gators were especially dominant in their second-round game, as they put on their best defensive showing of the season and were not challenged by Virginia’s renowned defense.

The Gators put the game away early, leading by 20-plus points most the second half in the 65-39 victory. Devin Robinson put together back-to-back games after scoring 24 on ETSU, he led Florida with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Justin Leon also got a double-double to get his game back on track, scoring 14 and grabbing 10 boards.

Wisconsin is led offensively by Bronson Koenig, who averages 14.5 points per game. He is also the top long-range threat with 100 three-pointers made this season.

Two big bodies, Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes can get it done on both ends. Both average 13.8 points per game and are the team’s best rebounders. Hayes pulls down 6.6 rebounds, while Happ leads the Badgers at 9.1. Happ is also the assists leader with 100 this season.

The Gators and Badgers have split four all-time meetings. The most recent meetings were in a home-and-home series in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. The teams split the series, both winning on their home court. Wisconsin was one of just three teams to defeat Florida in the 2013-14 season.

Wisconsin has a major advantage in NCAA Tournament experience, as it makes its fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. The Badgers have two Final Four appearances in the previous three runs.

Four of Wisconsin’s five starters have been a part of all four of the consecutive Sweet 16 runs. Florida, on the other hand, has just one player (Kasey Hill) with any experience in the tournament.

While this Florida team has very little tournament experience, the Gators have played well in the Sweet 16, historically. Florida has won each of its last seven Sweet 16 appearances and holds an 8-1 record in this round.

If Florida defeats Wisconsin, it will play the winner of (3) Baylor and (7) South Carolina in the Elite Eight.

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Bailiegh Williams
Growing up the daughter of a baseball coach in a household that revolved around Gators sports, Bailiegh’s future working in sports was her destiny. She played four years of varsity softball at Suwannee High School and one year on softball scholarship at Gulf Coast State College. In her first year she discovered a love for journalism so she packed her bags and moved to Gainesville to finish her A.A. and begin interning for Gator Country. She is now on track to graduate from the University of Florida in 2019. In her free time, Bailiegh enjoys binge watching her favorite TV shows and spending time with her family and her two fur babies.