No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina won't sneak up on Bo's Badgers
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Coastal Carolina put quite a scare into Virginia last year, so the Chanticleers have the full attention of top-seeded Wisconsin heading into their NCAA Tournament game on Friday night.
Yes, those Chanticleers from Conway, South Carolina, are back as a No. 16 seed. A No. 16 seed has never won a game in the round of 64, but Coastal Carolina came awfully close against the Cavaliers.
''A 16 against a 1, it's going to happen sometime,'' Wisconsin's Josh Gasser said. ''We're going to go out there and just play our game. If we take control of the things we can control, we should be OK.''
Virginia probably thought the same thing. Coastal Carolina led by 10 points in the first half and by five at halftime before losing 70-59.
''Last year against Virginia we came in confident, just like this year,'' the Chanticleers' Warren Gillis said. ''It sort of disappointed us the way we didn't finish. If we do the things we need to do in the second half, we'll be fine.''
Badgers coach Bo Ryan said Coastal Carolina (24-9), champion of the Big South, is a high-caliber opponent.
''How you can look around and start talking about 16 seed this, 15 seed that, 14. ... Those guys have four starters back from last year, took care of their conference tournament, played some tough teams and played well,'' Ryan said.
The Badgers (31-3) swept the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles after reaching the Final Four last year. They have won 16 of their last 17 games to earn a No. 1 seed for the first time in program history.
''It's really important this time of year not to get content with stuff that happened in the past,'' Sam Dekker said. ''Yeah, we had a good year, a good regular season, but we can't just sit on that and say, `Hey, it was good enough to get to this tournament,' and then just try to walk through it.''
Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky is averaging better than 18 points and eight rebounds for the nation's most efficient offense. Kaminsky, at 7-foot, is the star of a frontline that holds a huge size advantage.
Chanticleers coach Cliff Ellis said he isn't sure how much last year's game against Virginia will mean Friday, other than it should make his players believe they're capable of hanging with the best.
''We'll try to be calm,'' Ellis said. ''That's one thing we stress - calm through chaos. No emotional baggage. Play.''
Here's what else to look for in the West Regional matchup at CenturyLink Center:
JACKSON OUT: Wisconsin point guard Traevon Jackson won't play as he continues to recover from a broken right foot. Jackson has been practicing on a limited basis. Ryan didn't rule out Jackson playing if the Badgers made it to the Sweet 16.
BETTER THAN A 16? Ellis was ready to pounce when asked if he thought his team deserved a higher seed than No. 16. His answer: Absolutely. Then he reeled off a list of notable wins Big South teams posted against high major conferences. ''I don't know what our league can do,'' Ellis said. ''All you can do is play.''
RESPECTING HIS ELDER: Ryan, 67, lauded his Coastal Carolina counterpart, the 69-year-old Ellis, who has taken teams from four schools to the NCAA Tournament. ''He's put good teams on the floor no matter where he's coaching,'' Ryan said. ''He's my kind of guy. And not because we're about the same age. He's a teacher. He's a coach. He loves the gym.''
LIMITED MISTAKES: Wisconsin leads the nation in fewest fouls (12 per game), fewest turnovers (7.4) and fewest opponent free throws (11). The Badgers also are ninth in scoring defense (56.1 points per game).
CAMERON'S MOTIVATION: Coastal Carolina guard Josh Cameron grew up in Racine, Wisconsin, but wasn't recruited by the Badgers. He said his style of play didn't mesh with Ryan's system. Still, playing the home-state school provides motivation. Cameron ended up at Coastal Carolina by way of an Oklahoma junior college, and he has averaged 13.3 points over two seasons. ''He's been a pretty good cheesehead,'' Ellis said.