AU to play Wisconsin in second round of NCAA Tournament
After upsetting Boston University to win the Patriot League championship, the No. 15-seeded AU men’s basketball team will face the No. 2-seeded University of Wisconsin–Madison in the second round of the NCAA tournament on March 20 in Milwaukee, Wis.
The game will mark AU’s third appearance at the tournament with its first in 2009, and Wisconsin’s 16th straight appearance.
“We have a lot of respect for [Wisconsin head coach Bo] Ryan,” AU head coach Mike Brennan said. “[Wisconsin is] one of the best teams year in and year out, one of the most disciplined teams offensively and defensively, so we’re looking forward to getting out there and competing.”
The experience of being part of Selection Sunday was an opportunity that the team welcomed, but they are keeping their eyes on their game against the Badgers.
“We knew our name was going to be called and having it called is a lift off of our shoulders, but now it’s time to get back in the gym tomorrow and compete,” redshirt junior guard Darius Gardner said.
The Eagles will aim to beat the Badgers by continuing their emphasis on defense and rebounding, which were keys to their victory over BU and to their successful season, as they prepare for the upcoming matchup.
“We’re just going to focus on the things we can control and that’s just playing hard defense and trying to get stops,” sophomore guard Jesse Reed said.
Although Wisconsin is seen as the team with the upper hand in the contest, AU does not shy away from its constant classification as the underdog.
“It seems to be the nature of the team,” Gardner said. “We don’t really care about seedings or anything, we just play our game and I think we’ll be alright.”
AU will be led by Brennan, who won the Patriot League Head Coach of the Year award, senior center Tony Wroblicky, who won the PL Defensive Player of the Year award and Gardner, who won the Most-Valuable Player award for the PL tournament.
Wisconsin will be spearheaded Ryan, who has coached Wisconsin since 2001 and won his 700th career game on March 14. Junior forward Frank Kaminsky leads Wisconsin with 13.6 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game and freshman forward Nigel Hayes will come off the bench and earned the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year.
The game will be at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wis. on Mar. 20.