Wisconsin (25-9) finished second to Purdue in the Big Ten Conference regular season and second to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament, losing the title game on Sunday 71-56 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. Their reward for playing on Sunday is an 8-seed in the East Region, facing Virginia Tech (22-10) in the first round. Oh, and that first round game comes on Thursday night (8:40 p.m.), a quick turnaround for a team that played in a conference final on Sunday.
Senior Zak Showalter admitted that he didn’t understand the whole process.
“Questioned it a little bit; a lot of stuff that I can’t control,” said Showalter. “I just go out and play basketball and hopefully the rest takes care of itself.”
The Badgers will not only open up against the Hokies, led by former Marquette coach Buzz Williams, but the winner will most likely square off against the tournament’s top overall seed, Villanova (31-3). The Wildcats will open the tournament against the winner of a play-in game, either Mount St. Mary’s or New Orleans.
The Badgers were one of seven Big Ten teams to make the tournament. But Wisconsin is seeded lower than Purdue (No. 4) and Minnesota (No. 5), with both of those teams playing in Milwaukee at the Bradley Center. Even Maryland and Northwestern were given six-seeds. Maryland lost to Wisconsin in the regular season and the Badgers pummeled the Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Michigan, which is one of the hottest teams in college basketball and won the Big Ten Tournament, drew a 7-seed in the Midwest Region. Michigan State is seeded number-9 in the Midwest.
Coach Greg Gard stayed away from commenting on the seed process for fear of getting into trouble. But he certainly didn’t understand having to turn around and play on Thursday night after playing in the Big Ten Championship game on Sunday.
Wisconsin will play in its 19th straight NCAA Tournament, but the number-8 seeding will be their lowest since 2009, when the Badgers were a 12-seed and upset number-5 Florida State.
The Badgers managed to shoot just 39% from the field against Michigan, after performing well in the two previous tournament games.
Zak Showalter said it’s easy to move past Michigan now, with so little time to prepare for Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament opener on Thursday night.