Topple-seed: Villanova stunned 65-62 by Wisconsin in NCAA

Topple-seed: Villanova stunned 65-62 by Wisconsin in NCAA

BUFFALO, N.Y. — When the season ended suddenly and shockingly, much earlier than Villanova expected, Kris Jenkins bent over in disbelief near mid-court.

There would be no game-winning shot, no confetti-filled celebration, no more games. The defending champions — and No. 1 overall seed — are done.

On Wisconsin.

After two relatively routine days, madness returned to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday as top-seeded Villanova was bounced from the brackets and the East region 65-62 by No. 8 seed Wisconsin, which added another major upset to its resume and stormed into the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year.

Nigel Hayes scored 19 points, dropping a layup in traffic with 11.4 seconds left, and Bronson Koenig shook off foul trouble and added 17 for the tournament-toughened Badgers (27-9), who will play next week at New York’s Madison Square Garden after knocking off a Villanova team that never found its traction in snowy Buffalo.

“Seeds don’t matter,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “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.”

Mission accomplished.

Senior Josh Hart scored 19 to lead the Wildcats, but the guard was bottled up and stripped by Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown on a drive in the final seconds. Brown then split two free throws with 4 seconds left, but Villanova struggled to corral the rebound and then couldn’t get off a final shot.

It was a bitter ending for the Wildcats, who were trying to be the first team to repeat as champions since 2007. But starting with an unimpressive performance against No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s in its opener on Thursday, Villanova looked vulnerable and instead became the first No. 1 seed to be sent home.

“To me, there’s no dishonour in losing in this tournament,” said coach Jay Wright, whose team lost as a No. 2 in Buffalo three years ago. “We’ve lived through it. You are judged by how you play in this tournament and that’s the reality of it. So, you have to accept it.”

When the horn sounded, Wisconsin’s red-clad fans erupted in celebration and the Badgers stormed the court after taking down a No. 1 seed for the third time in four years. Wisconsin beat Arizona in 2014, Kentucky in 2015 and now can add Villanova to its list.

Flushed with pride, Gard hugged his wife and children as the Badgers’ pep band played their hearts out. A few minutes later, Wisconsin’s players doused each other with water and tore a few signs off the walls in KeyBank Center for souvenirs.

Hayes has been part of all those previous upsets by Wisconsin.

“All of those games we’ve been the underdog,” he said. “You have all types of ranking systems, statistics. The thing with all those algorithms is they can’t calculate heart, will to win, toughness, desire. And that’s the thing we have.”

Villanova came into the NCAAs on a roll after winning the Big East Tournament and was expected to at least escape the East but had their hopes busted and will have to relish those moments from last year when they won their first title since 1985.

Wright was concerned about Wisconsin, calling them a “great number eight” seed and compared them to Butler, which beat Villanova twice during the season. As it turned out, the Badgers were more than that, as savvy seniors Koenig and Hayes made several key plays in the closing minutes as Wisconsin overcame a 57-50 deficit.

Super sub freshman Donte DiVincenzo scored 15 and Jalen Brunson added 11 for Villanova. But the Wildcats got little from Jenkins, the hero of last year’s title game when he drained a 3-pointer to beat North Carolina. Jenkins couldn’t shake a prolonged shooting slump and went just 2 of 9 and 4 of 22 in two games.

Jenkins and fellow seniors Hart and Darryl Reynolds finish their career 129-17 in four years, but the sting of their last loss might linger.

“We’re close on and off the court and that bond is never going to be broken,” Hart said.

UNDER PRESSURE

The Badgers have been at their best when it matters most.

Under Gard, Wisconsin improved to 39-1 when leading or tied with 5 minutes remaining, including 24-1 this season.

MORE PRESSURE

With a crown comes expectations, sometimes unrealistic ones. Tabbed as the team to beat — well, at least one of them — Villanova’s players and coaches knew anything less than a return to the Final Four would be looked at as failure.

Maybe not fair, but Wright knows that’s the reality.

“You’re a one seed, you’re supposed to get to the Final Four, get out of your bracket,” he said. “That’s probably what we have to be to be a success. And as you know, we accept that, we’ll take it. We’re not going to define ourselves that way, but we do get it.”

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: There would be no magic this March for the Wildcats, who didn’t talk about repeating but were constantly reminded about trying to repeat. Jenkins and Hart are NBA bound, but in Brunson, DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall, Villanova has a solid core coming back.

Wisconsin: All that’s left for the Badgers seniors — Koenig, Hayes, Brown and Zak Showalter — is to win a national title. They’ve won 13 NCAA tourney games in the past four years and can’t be overlooked. This team can play almost any style and in Koenig Wisconsin has a player capable of taking over.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: Will play the Florida-Virginia winner next week.

___

For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Tom Withers, The Associated Press

Canadian Press

Just Posted

Central Okanagan Public Schools (File photo)
COVID-19 exposure identified at West Kelowna school

The site of the exposure has been identified as Shannon Lake Elementary School

A West Kelowna man was seriously injured in a single-vehicle collision early on Tuesday morning. (Black Press file photo)
Single vehicle collision seriously injures West Kelowna man

The man was driving a pickup truck that went off the road and caught on fire

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Cheetahs can’t roar

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Voix du Coeur is bringing music to seniors in retirement homes as restrictions slowly start to ease. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Trio sings opera to Okanagan seniors as pandemic restrictions ease

Voix du Coeur travel around the Okanagan to bring the joy of music to seniors for free

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

Teenagers make their way to Truswell Road after a party is broken up by police at the end of Mission Creek (Lorraine Besner/Contributed).
Kelowna residents concerned about ongoing alleged underage beach parties

Public urination, property damage, drinking and drug usage have become weekly concerns

Six United Way chapters around the province are merging into United Way B.C. (News Bulletin file photo)
6 United Way chapters merging around B.C.

Money raised in communities will stay in those communities, agency says

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A new air cleaning technology will be installed at Unisus School in Summerland. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Virus cleaning pilot set for Unisus School in Summerland

Summerland-based lighting company to install technology at private school

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

Kelowna artist Bobby Vandenhoorn recently completed mural of late Canadian rock icon and activist Gord Downie now adorns Brenda Dalzell’s Sicamous business, the Bruhn Crossing Urban Market. (Contributed)
Canadian rock legend, activist Gord Downie inspires Sicamous mural

Business owner hopes artwork will help foster ongoing conversations around reconciliation

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Most Read