Instant Replay: No. 8 Wisconsin ends No. 1 Villanova's bid to repeat

Instant Replay: No. 8 Wisconsin ends No. 1 Villanova's bid to repeat

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BOX SCORE

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Nigel Hayes' driving layup with 11 seconds gave Wisconsin a 65-62 win over top-ranked and top-seeded Villanova at KeyBank Center, ending the Wildcats' bid to repeat as national champions.

Villanova led by seven at 57-50 with five minutes left, but Wisconsin outscored the Wildcats, 15-5, the rest of the way, limiting Villanova to just one basket during that stretch.

After Hayes put the Badgers ahead, Josh Hart drove the lane with a chance to tie the score, but he was tied up in the paint and lost the ball with four seconds left.

Villanova fouled Wisconsin's Vitto Brown, who hit the first of two foul shots, and Villanova wasn't able to control the rebound until it was too late to put together a potential game-tying three.

Hart finished his brilliant Villanova career with 19 points, freshman Donte DiVincenzo added 15 points and five rebounds and sophomore Jalen Brunson added 11 points, all in the second half.

But they just didn't get enough help, and Villanova's season-long depth issues were glaring against a Wisconsin team that won 26 games this year, was ranked as high as seventh during the season and goes 10 players deep.

Kris Jenkins, the sharp-shooting hero of last year's NCAA Championship Game, continued to struggle, going 2 for 9 from the field and 0 for 2 from range. He was 0 for 8 from three in Villanova's two tournament games and 2 of 19 in the last four games.

Jenkins, Darryl Reynolds and Mikal Bridges, three Villanova starters, combined for just eight points.

What it means
Villanova became the 24th team in the last 25 years to fail to repeat as national champions. Since 1993, only Florida in 2006 and 2007 has won back-to-back national titles.

Villanova also lost for the fourth time in eight years as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed to an opponent seeded No. 7 or lower.

They also lost as a No. 2 seed in 2010 to No. 10 St. Mary's, they lost as a No. 2 seed in 2014 to No. 7 seed UConn -- the eventual national champion -- and they lost as a No. 1 seed in 2015 to No. 8 seed North Carolina State.

Since 2010, No. 1 or 2 seeds are 113-24 vs. teams seeded No. 7 or lower, with Villanova responsible for four of those 24 losses.

Wisconsin improved to 27-9 and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year, fifth time in the last six years and 10th time in the last 18 years.

Stat of the day
These two NCAA games mark the first time Jenkins has failed to hit at least one three-pointer in consecutive games since December 2015 when he was 0 for 4 vs. Delaware and 0 for 2 vs. Penn.

Turning point 
Bronson Koenig hit two deep right-corner threes a minute apart to get Wisconsin back in the game after they trailed by seven with 5:06 to go.

By the numbers
Villanova was just 5 for 16 from three and 1 for 5 in the second half. … For Wisconsin, Koenig, playing much of the game with four fouls, finished with 17 points. Hayes added 19 points and eight rebounds while Ethan Happ added 12 points and eight boards. … Villanova shot 54 percent in the second half but missed three foul shots in the final three minutes.

What's next
Wisconsin advanced to the Sweet 16 and will play East Region semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York on Friday against the winner of a game later Saturday between Florida and Virginia.

This is Wisconsin's 10th trip to the Sweet 16 -- all in the last 17 years. It's the Badgers' fourth straight Sweet 16 and sixth in the last seven years.

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.

Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.

He later made the announcement on Twitter.

Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.

Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.

"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."

Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.

With another Penn Relays win, Villanova's Siofra Cleirigh Buttner aims to keep pace with greats

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USA Today Images

With another Penn Relays win, Villanova's Siofra Cleirigh Buttner aims to keep pace with greats

Siofra Cleirigh Buttner was on the shoulder of Stanford's Elise Cranny, and then she wasn't.

Once again Villanova's middle-distance dynamo had found a gear few possess. Once again she powered to the front of the pack and led the Wildcats to a Penn Relays victory β€” this one, in Friday's 4-by-1,500 relay, was their second in as many days β€” and once again she was at a loss to explain it all.

"It seems like I get the same question every time," she said. "For me, I just listen to my legs."

And so she did, anchoring the victorious relay with a blistering 4:11.03 leg. The Wildcats, clocked at 17:25.85, won this race for the second straight year and 11th time in all. They also gave fifth-year senior Angel Piccirillo her eighth career victory, a women's record for the Relays.

The performance by Buttner, a junior, was nothing Wildcats coach Gina Procaccio hadn't seen before. After she ran a strong 800-meter leg to key the 'Cats to a victory in Thursday's distance medley relay (see story), Procaccio talked about her "amazing turnover, to go from zero to 60."

"I've never had an athlete accelerate like she has," she said.

Surely that burst comes in part from her homeland. A native of Dublin, Ireland, she talked about running lush, green hills as a teenager.

"I think that just made me a lot faster," she said.

And it comes in part from the event itself.

"When you come here," Procaccio said, "you just become a different being."

But no small part of it comes because of the push Buttner's teammates give her, and the tireless pursuit β€” on her part, and everyone else's β€” of the stars who preceded her at VU.

Be assured she doesn't want to drop that baton, any more than she does a real one.

In Friday's relay, she was preceded by sophomore Bella Burda, Piccirillo and another soph, Nicole Hutchinson, the last of whom saw Stanford's Christina Aragon nudge into the lead shortly before the exchange.

And for over three laps, Buttner was content to ride Cranny's shoulder. Her parents and sister were looking on. So too was Procaccio, who fretted a bit, knowing that Buttner's best event is the 800, while Cranny had run a sub-4:12 mile this year, and a sub-4:10 last spring.

"I was hurting that last 800," Buttner said, "but I knew that she was hurting, too."

She also knew she had enough in reserve β€” that indeed she always does. And sure enough she blew past Cranny with 200 meters remaining, and that was that. The Wildcats won by nearly two seconds.

"I just have full confidence in myself," she said, "and remember what I'm doing it for and who I'm doing it for."

Folks like Piccirillo, a close friend.

"There's no one more deserving (of the record) than Angel," said Buttner, who has won five wheels herself at the Relays.

She followed what she called "the Irish Pipeline" to Villanova, the one laid by Ronnie Delany, Eamonn Coghlan and Marcus O'Sullivan years ago, and during a campus visit got some idea of the import of the Relays when she saw hundreds of wheels lining the walls of one of the school's sports palaces.

"I'd already known a little bit about the Penn Relays," she said, "but once I saw that I really understood the big story behind it."

So she came over. And here's another tribute to her speed β€” she outran homesickness.

"I don't think when you're a student-athlete, you have time to be homesick," she said.

Buttner reiterated something Procaccio said after Friday's race β€” that she is following in the footsteps of departed star Steph Schappert, just as Piccirillo and Schappert were following Emily Lipari and Nicky Akande, and Lipari and Akande were tracking Sheila Reid.

The chase is ongoing. And Buttner is forever listening to her legs, forever ready to put it into overdrive.