CHICAGO - The Wisconsin Badgers earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament's West regional after losing to the Ohio State Buckeyes 50-43 in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game. The Badgers will play 12th-seeded Ole Miss in Kansas City, Mo., who just defeated the Florida Gators 66-63 to win the SEC Tournament.
The Badgers will play on Friday, and will have to put a stop to Ole Miss' 5-game winning streak if they want to advance in the tournament.
To do that, they'll have to find a way to contain junior guard Marshall Henderson, who averages 20 pointes per game this season. Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said the Rebels are a tough 12 seed, especially after they won the SEC's automatic bid earlier in the day. The Badgers are 23-16 against SEC teams all-time, including a 1-1 record this season. In addition to their loss to Florida, the Badgers also beat Arkansas 77-70 on Nov. 24.
"They beat that a team that crushed us earlier in the year," Ryan said, referring to his team's earlier 74-56 loss to Florida in their second game of the season. "Every team that's in is good; every team has had their runs. Every team has shown they can get things done."
This Wisconsin's 15th-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and they have won 10 of their 11 first round games under Ryan. Their lone loss in the first round under Ryan came in 2006 when they lost as an 9-seed to 8th-seeded Arizona. Ryan said he was proud of his team for competing enough to earn another NCAA tournament bid, overcoming significant injury and experience issues along the way.
"I'm proud of our guys that they were able to put themselves in this position," Ryan told reporters after the tournament field was announced.
The NCAA selection committee placed the Badgers in the same regional as No. 1-seeded Gonzaga, as well as No. 2-seeded Ohio State and No. 3-seeded New Mexico. If the Badgers defeat the Rebels they will play Kansas State or Boise State and La Salle, depending on who wins the first round play-in game on March 20. The Badgers could see a rematch of their 2011 NCAA Tournament game against the Kansas Sate Wildcats, which the Badgers won 70-65.
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