UW MBB: Mike Lucas: Rejuvenated Hokies play wide, bring a deep bench

Photo: Wisconsin Badgers

BY MIKE LUCAS

UWBadgers.com Senior Writer

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin men's basketball team (25-9) received the No. 8 seed in the East Region and will face ninth-seeded Virginia Tech (22-10) in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

UWBadgers.com senior writer Mike Lucas takes a look ahead at the Hokies as the Badgers prepare for their 19th-consecutive trip to the The Big Dance, the fourth-longest active streak and the fifth-longest in the history of the NCAA tournament.

"HOW TOUGH ARE YOU?"

The last time Virginia Tech coach Brent Langdon "Buzz" Williams faced a Wisconsin team was in early December of 2013 in what was Williams' sixth and final season at Marquette. Sam Dekker scored 20 points and was one of five players in double-figures as the Badgers handed the Golden Eagles a 70-64 loss at the Kohl Center. It evened Williams' record to 3-3 against the UW. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig came off the bench, saw limited minutes and combined to shoot just 2-of-8 from the field.

During his post-game comments, Williams lauded the Badgers for their toughness. "I think it always comes down to loose balls and first to the floor and 50-50 balls and offensive rebounds and offensive puts-backs and one — they get an offensive rebound, they score and you foul them. Those are the things I've been saying all week because it always will shake out to, 'How tough are you?'"

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NOTE WORTH QUOTING

The Hokies love to launch from the 3-point line. They rank No. 13 nationally in shooting percentage (.403) from beyond the arc. The school record is 39.5 percent (1995-96). Since 2009, the University of Virginia has the best single-season mark from long distance in the ACC — shooting 40.3 percent last season. Virginia Tech made 17-of-26 (.645) at Louisville and 12-of-18 against Boston College (.667). The Hokies have made at least 10 triples in six of the last eight games.

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TO HAIL WITH MICHIGAN

Trailing by as many as 15 points in the first half, the Hokies rallied for a 73-70 win over Michigan in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They didn't take their first lead until 2:18 remained in the game. And while the Wolverines outscored Virginia Tech, 23-9, in points off turnovers, they were crushed at the free throw line. The Hokies were 19-of-21 compared to 4-of-7 for Michigan. LeDay was the leading scorer with 18. Justin Robinson had 11.

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