Four semi­fi­nal­ists bring lit­tle glam­our to Gar­den

Un­der­rated group known for foot­ball takes place of top seeds.

Austin American-Statesman - - NCAA TOURNAMENT ROUND OF 16 -

The folks at Madison Square Gar­den were drool­ing at the thought of a Duke-Vil­lanova re­gional fi­nal. Two schools that con­sider the Gar­den a home away from home in a No. 1 seed vs. No. 2 seed dream matchup.

In­stead, four foot­ball schools are fight­ing for a berth in basketball’s Fi­nal Four.

Tonight, eighth-seeded Wis­con­sin plays fourth-seeded Florida, while third-seeded Bay­lor meets sev­enth-seeded South Carolina.

No team left in the NCAA Tour­na­ment is as used to be­ing in the Sweet 16 as Wis­con­sin. The Bad­gers are in their fourth straight re­gional semi­fi­nal, a feat no other team can claim. They have also been in the round of 16 six of the last seven years. Florida is mak­ing its fifth straight Sweet 16 ap­pear­ance, but it’s over a seven-year span. Bay­lor is mak­ing its fourth re­gional semi­fi­nal ap­pear­ance since 2010.

South Carolina? The Game­cocks won an NCAA Tour­na­ment game for the first time since 1973. Last year, South Carolina was mis­tak­enly told on Se­lec­tion Sun­day that it was in the field.

“Pri­vately, in my own home with my wife, when I spoke to my mom, when I spoke to guys that raised me, I let them know, ‘This ain’t right, these kids de­serve to be there,’” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “But be­ing around guys like (Sin­dar­ius) Thorn­well al­lowed me to un­der­stand, I’ve got a re­spon­si­bil­ity here to get them in for the next op­por­tu­nity. It’s here and it’s been an un­be­liev­able ride. I’m happy they’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it right now.”

The Game­cocks came into the NCAA Tour­na­ment hav­ing lost two straight and five of seven. Now they’re on a roll that in­cludes wins over Mar­quette and Duke.”

Wis­con­sin, which many felt was un­der­seeded as a No. 8, comes in hav­ing just beaten the over­all No. 1 seed, Vil­lanova.

“They had a great year. We never talked about in prepa­ra­tion for Vil­lanova about play­ing the de­fend­ing na­tional cham­pi­ons,” Wis­con­sin coach Greg Gard said. “We just talked about play­ing a re­ally good team and that we were go­ing to have to play re­ally well in or­der to have a chance in that game.”

And now the Bad­gers are back in the Sweet 16.

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