As the Hokies prepare for a First Round match-up with the Wisconsin Badgers, we get the inside scoop on the opponent with Wisconsin’s FanSided Site, Badger of Honor
The #9 seed Virginia Tech Hokies will battle the #8 seed Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday night at 9:40 PM ET in Buffalo, New York. In their first NCAA Tournament game since the 2007-08 season, the Hokies face a brutal East Region, which includes number one overall seed, Villanova, the hottest #2 seed in the country in Duke, and of course, the tough task in the First Round against the Badgers.
As the Hokies prepare for their First Round game, it is time to get to know the opponent. Trevor Jossart, of FanSided’s Wisconsin Badgers site, Badger of Honor, joins Fighting Gobbler for a Q&A, as we discuss the intricacies of the upcoming match-up between the Hokies and the Badgers.
If you’re looking for my answers to Badger of Honor’s questions about the Hokies, you can find their post here.
A sincere thanks to Trevor for all the help and for joining us!
Q: What does Wisconsin need to do to beat VT?
Badger of Honor: To put it simply, the Badgers need to make their shots to beat Virginia Tech. In our recent struggles, the Badgers have struggled mightily from the floor, especially the free throw line. Wisconsin is very good at moving the ball, getting the open shot, and attacking the rim- the fact of the matter is right now they just are not seeing the ball go through the hoop.
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Additionally, the Badgers must defend the three-point line. Virginia Tech reminds me a lot of Michigan in that they are very dangerous from behind the arc. Wisconsin is ranked 307th in the country in three-point defense, while the Hokies are 9th in three-point offense.
Q: Who will be the X-Factor for Wisconsin’s postseason success?
Badger of Honor: This is a very tough answer because the Badgers rely so much on team presence for their success. Obviously the “Big Three” of Ethan Happ, Nigel Hayes, and Bronson Koenig need to show up, but I think the major unsung factor of it all is Vitto Brown. With Happ being an interior post guy, Brown has the ability to stretch the floor and open up the lane. Because of this, he gets a lot of open shots.
It is amazing how much better the Badgers seem to play when he is hitting shots. He has struggled of late, having not scored in double figures since February 12 and is shooting under 40 percent from the floor on the year. It may not be the most glamorous answer, but Brown will be huge in the Badgers’ success.
Q: How is a Greg Gard coached team different/similar from that of Bo Ryan?
Badger of Honor: To be honest, there is not much of a difference. It is funny though, in 15 seasons of Bo Ryan, the Badgers didn’t run a zone defense once. Not ever. Gard has shown glimpses of zones, but that’s minor. To further answer the question, Gard has a lot more trust in his bench than Ryan ever did and tends to go 9-10 guys deep at times, while Ryan usually pushed his starters around 35+ minutes.
Sometimes Gard gets a bit questionable with his lineup selection, but the good thing about being open to bench depth is that it brings up more opportunities for different players to get hot. Gard shows a lot of the same things that Ryan does, especially because he was his assistant for his entire career.
Q: Who is more important player for the Badgers? Bronson Koenig or Nigel Hayes?
Badger of Honor: Nigel Hayes has received a ton of undeserved scrutiny this year. A player that has seemingly regressed since his freshman year, Hayes has opened up a repertoire of other things that he contributes on the floor. He is arguably the Badgers best overall defensive player and is an incredible rebounder and even better passer. While the Badgers go as Bronson Koenig goes in terms of offensive production, the Badgers are truly nothing without everything Hayes brings to the table.
Q: What is your opinion on the East Region as a whole?
Badger of Honor: An unpopular opinion, but I think the East is stacked and the toughest region of them all. Three teams that have been ranked No. 1 this year in Baylor, Duke, and Villanova- which is including the defending champ and the preseason number one team who is finally healthy. I do see a few potential upsets in maybe the 4/13, 5/12 game, but in terms of big dogs I think the region is truly the best. Even the Badgers and Hokies are under-seeded in my opinion.
Q: Final score prediction?
Badger of Honor: Wisconsin 67, Virginia Tech 63