Jim Polzin reports in the Madison Cap Times:
“The moment is fresh nearly 12 months later, partly because the pain still lingers for the members of the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team.
But even if there were a way for the Badgers to wipe the memory of a 61-56 loss to Notre Dame to end the 2015-16 season from their brains, it wouldn’t matter because their coach keeps bringing it up.
“It should stay in their minds since we mention it about every week,” Greg Gard said. “We referred to Notre Dame more than any past opponent, I think, since I’ve been here in terms of how it ended.”
It didn’t end pretty for UW, which self-destructed in the final minute against the Fighting Irish and watched its season come to an abrupt end in the Sweet 16.
The Badgers (27-9) have arrived at the same step on the NCAA tournament ladder a year later. They’ll face Florida (26-8) on Friday night in an East region semifinal at Madison Square Garden in New York.”
Schmidt’s Instant Pregame Mini-Analysis
In an earlier post, http://wp.me/p8eeJm-tJ I highlighted the factors that could allow Wisconsin to go all the way to the Final Four: experience, inside play, and Bronson Koenig. All three of those strengths were on abundant display in the first two games as the Badgers downed #9 Virginia Tech and then upset #1 Villanova.
The Badgers also minimized two of the three weaknesses that I thought could make them an “early out:” offensive inconsistency and turnovers.
The other factor was horrible free throw shooting. While the Badgers did have horrible free throw shooting (43%) against Villanova, fortunately it didn’t cost them the game. Ironically, Villanova, a much better free throw shooting team (71%) missed a key charity toss down the stretch which would have given them a one point lead and might have changed Wisconsin’s strategy last minute strategy of having Nigel Hayes drive for a two-pointer.
Florida plays tough defense. So, in addition to maintaining offensive consistency and getting continued outstanding play from Koenig, Hayes, Ethan Happ, and Vito Brown, the Badgers will have to hold down the turnovers and sink their free throws to escape the Gators.
Tune in on Friday night @ 10:00 PM on TBS to see what happens, live from Madison Square Garden in NY!