March Madness – (1) Wisconsin vs. (16) Coastal Carolina

(16) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers vs. (1) Wisconsin Badgers (-19.5, 129 o/u)

The No.1 Wisconsin Badgers (31-3, 16-2 Big Ten) needed overtime on Sunday to beat Michigan State 80-69 and win the Big Ten tournament. The odds of their second round March Madness tilt with the No. 16 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers needing an extra frame are decidedly lower. The teams will square off on Friday in Omaha (9:20 p.m. Eastern).

Wisconsin was down as many as 11 in the second half against Michigan State, but clamped down on D at the end of the game and in OT to emerge with the Big Ten crown.

“I thought it was really good for us to have a game like this where we were behind with seven minutes left,” said Badger guard Bronson Koenig. “They kind of thought they had us when we were down 11, but I just kept telling our guys you keep fighting, never give up, and that’s what we did. And luckily, we were fortunate enough and came out with a win.”

Wisconsin came back from 11 points down in the second half behind 25 points from Nigel Hayes (including 12/12 from the stripe), 19 from Frank Kaminsky, and 18 from Koenig.  The win gave the Badgers their third Big Ten championship, but more importantly solidified the team as a No. 1 seed, which is a first for the school.

“Being the first No. 1 seed in the history of Wisconsin, being on a team that set a record here, it’ll live on forever,” senior guard Josh Gasser said. “That’s special. We’ve got to take advantage of it now.”

After a steady diet of fearsome competition in the Big Ten, the Badgers now face a Coastal Carolina team from the Big South. The Chanticleers won their conference title – and tourney berth – by beating Winthrop 81-70 last weekend.

“This is a euphoric moment,” said Coastal Carolina head coach Cliff Ellis, who led his team to its second consecutive conference title.

In the title game, the Chanticleers were led by Warren Gillis (22 points) and Elijah Wilson (19 points). Even though Coastal Carolina is a No. 16 seed, its players are talking a big game.

“We can match-up with anybody,” said forward Badou Diagne.

The Chanticleers proved that, in a way, last year, hanging tough with No. 1 Virginia in second round play, but eventually falling 70-59.

Given their performance last year, Coastal Carolina and the points (+19.5) is in play; however, a better pick is taking the over (129).

(Photo credit: White & Blue Review (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode].)

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