March finally gives us some madness as Wisconsin ousts Villanova: 3 takeaways

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The first two days of the NCAA Tournament came and went quietly with every 1-4 seed winning its first round game, but day three delivered the madness and then some. The No. 1 overall seed Villanova Wildcats fell to No. 8 seed Wisconsin in a stunner, 65-62. A game that drastically alters the East Region and sends a jolt across the tournament. 

1. The East is now Duke’s to lose

There was legitimate chatter before Selection Sunday that Duke, which earned the No. 2 seed in the East Region, was worthy of a top seed. But it was the Tar Heels of North Carolina, not the Blue Devils, who ultimately won out the final No. 1 seed.

And now it seems that situation, which angered Duke fans at the time, could not have worked out more favorably for their Blue Devils. The top-seeded team in the region, Villanova, is now done, which leaves 3-seed Baylor, 4-seed Florid and of course Wisconsin as the obvious challengers for Duke to come out of the East just based on playing the favorites.

You have to like Duke’s chances against any of those teams. 

So yeah, North Carolina might have earned the No. 1 seed. But it has No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 Butler all still alive and kicking in its region of doom. Which situation do you think Duke would rather have right now?

2. Wisconsin was painfully under-seeded

Nothing to take away from Wisconsin here, but the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament had no business playing the Badgers in the second round of the Big Dance. This was one of the wonky seedings the selection committee flat-out got wrong. They finished above Minnesota in the Big Ten standings, beat the Golden Gophers twice in the regular season, and still found a seed that was three spots lower.

Wisconsin struggled to play consistently over the back portion of its schedule, which is a huge reason for its seed-slide. But this game proved that it was worthy of a higher seed that more closely aligned with its play earlier this season. It could have easily been a 5-seed, just based on body of work and what it accomplished in the Big Ten. But instead, it fell to an 8-seed where it was a single-digit underdog in the round of 32 against the reigning national champion.

3. Villanova has struggled to make it out of the first weekend

It’s worth noting before I say this: Villanova won the national title one season ago. 

But outside of that magical run, it has struggled mightily to make it past the first weekend of the tournament. With the loss to Wisconsin, Villanova has not advanced to the Sweet 16 in six of its last seven NCAA Tournament appearances. 

The Wildcats had National Player of the Year Candidate Josh Hart. They had 8-1 odds to win the title. And now they will go home empty-handed. Whether Wisconsin was under-seeded or not, this is a massive upset.

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