The bracket for the NCAA Tournament was revealed Sunday and coach Greg Gard’s club will be the No. 9 seed in the South Region and face the No. 8 seed North Carolina on Friday in the first round. The game will be played in West Lafayette at Mackey Arena where the Badgers are 4-42 all-time. Tip is at 6:30 p.m. (CT) and the game will air on CBS. The winner will likely then face No. 1 seed Baylor in the Round of 32.
North Carolina comes into the game 18-10 and have won four of their last six games. That included a run to the ACC semifinals before losing to Florida State. The Tar Heels are led by forward Armando Bacot 12.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg), guard Caleb Love (10.5 ppg, 3.6 apg) and forward Garrison Brooks (10.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg).
One worrisome stat for the #Badgers: North Carolina ranks No. 1 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (41.3).
Wisconsin enters the tournament having lost six of its last eight games in large part due to long scoring droughts, inconsistent shooting and untimely miscues on defense. The Badgers had played better and appeared on the verge of upsetting Iowa in the Big Ten quarterfinals, but they made just one shot in the final 9:20 of the game and could not get the necessary stops on the defensive end.
This will be the third time the teams have played in the NCAA Tournament. The first came in the Elite 8 in 2005 when the Tar Heels beat the Badgers and eventually went on to win the national title. Wisconsin got a measure of revenge 10 years later by beating coach Roy Williams and North Carolina in the Sweet 16 on its way to the national title game.
The advanced analytics like the Badgers much more than North Carolina. Kenpom.com ranks Wisconsin 10th in the country, while the Tar Heels are 28th. T-Rank has UW at No. 12 and North Carolina at 31. Both metrics consider the Tar Heels better on defense than offense, which is also true for the Badgers.
This will be Wisconsin’s 25th appearances in the Big Dance, including the 21st in the last 22 tournaments. The Badgers have won at least one game in 15 of the 21, most recently in the 2016-17 season when they beat Virginia Tech in the first round and then upset No. 1 seed Villanova in the second.