Wisconsin returns to Sweet 16 to face No. 4 seed Florida

Posted at 3:38 PM, Mar 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 15:38:36-04

No. 8 seed Wisconsin (27-9) vs. No. 4 seed Florida (26-8)

Sweet 16, East region; New York; about 10 p.m. EDT (15 minutes after first game).

BOTTOM LINE: The Badgers are back in the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season after upsetting defending champion Villanova in the second round. Wisconsin lost five of six late in the regular season, but seniors Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig have sparked another successful March. Florida is back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2014. The Gators missed the NCAAs altogether the last two seasons, but second-year coach Mike White has them rolling again. Florida was one of the most dominant teams in the first two rounds of the tournament, beating East Tennessee by 15 and Virginia by 26.

VETERAN LEADERSHIP: Hayes and Koenig rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, among active players in career points scored in the NCAA Tournament heading into the Sweet 16. Hayes has 166 points and Koenig has 159. The 6-foot-8 Hayes is one of two players in Big Ten history with at least 1,800 career points, 700 rebounds and 300 assists. The other is former Michigan State star Steve Smith. Koenig is one of the best clutch shooters in the country. He is 36 for 71 from 3-point range over the last two seasons in the final 5 minutes and overtime.

SLUMP: Florida's KeVaughn Allen, who averaged nearly 14 points coming into the tournament, has 11 total points in two NCAA games and is 1 for 13 from 3-point range. Depth and getting offense from different spots has been one of the Gators' strengths. Eight different players have had at least one game in which they have led the team in scoring.

SECOND-YEAR STANDARDS: White, who took over when Billy Donovan left for the NBA, has set a program record for victories in his first two seasons as Gators head coach with 46. Wisconsin coach Greg Gard is the third coach in the last 20 years to lead a team to the Sweet 16 each of his first two seasons, joining Gonzaga's Mark Few and UCLA's Steve Lavin.