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NCAA tournament bracket 2017: East Region breakdown

Wisconsin has been tasked with emerging from a tough region.

Now that the 2017 NCAA tournament bracket is unveiled, it’s time to examine the East Region, where the Wisconsin Badgers have been tabbed as the No. 8 seed. Here is a breakdown of the 16 teams to get you better acquainted with the opponents Wisconsin would be facing if it advances throughout March—and, hopefully, April.

Buffalo, N.Y.

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 16 Mount Saint Mary’s/New Orleans

Thursday, 6:10 p.m. CT

Villanova (31-3, 15-3 Big East) is the defending national champion and has been playing with the potential to repeat all season behind senior guard Josh Hart, a favorite to win the Naismith Award. The Wildcats won both the Big East regular-season and tournament titles, defeating Creighton 74-60 in the latter.

Mount Saint Mary’s (19-15, 14-4 Northeast) and New Orleans (20-11, 13-5 Southland) both punched their tickets to the dance by way of an automatic bid. MSM comes out of the Northeast Conference after defeating St. Francis 71-61. New Orleans hails from the Southland Conference and defeated Texas A&M-CC 68-65 to earn its first NCAA tournament bid since 1996. Both teams won their conference titles in the regular season and will play each other for a chance to play Villanova, the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. The Mountaineers and Privateers play Tuesday at 5:40 p.m. CT

No. 8 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech

Thursday, 8:40 p.m. CT

Wisconsin (25-9, 12-6 Big Ten) lost five of its final seven regular-season games prior to making the Big Ten tournament championship game and losing to Michigan 71-56. The Badgers are into the tournament as an at-large bid.

This is Wisconsin’s 19th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, marking college basketball’s fourth-longest active streak. Wisconsin is also the only team to have reached the Sweet 16 in each of the last three seasons; it has advanced that far in five of the last six.

Virginia Tech (22-10, 10-8 ACC) finished seventh in the ACC. In the opener of the ACC tournament, the Hokies defeated Wake Forest 99-90 behind leading scorer Zach LeDay, who scored a career-high 31 points. The Hokies later lost in the quarterfinals to Florida State.

The Hokies are into the tournament as an at-large bid.

Orlando, Fla.

No. 5 Virginia vs. No. 12 UNC Wilmington

Thursday, 11:40 a.m. CT

Virginia (22-10, 11-7 ACC) enters the tournament as an at-large bid after finishing fifth in the ACC. Much like their in-state rival Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament to Notre Dame 71-58. London Perrantes leads Virginia with 12.5 points and 3.8 assists per game.

UNC Wilmington (29-5, 15-3 Colonial) earned an automatic bid for the NCAA tournament by winning the Colonial Athletic Association championship 78-69 over Charleston. The Seahawks—also the CAA regular-season champions—are certainly a team that can get hot, entering the tourney 10th in the NCAA at 85.2 points per game.

No. 4 Florida vs. No. 13 East Tennessee State

Thursday, 2:10 p.m. CT

Florida (24-8, 14-4 SEC) finished two games back of Kentucky for the SEC regular-season crown despite finishing 1-4 against ranked teams. The Gators were one-and-done in the SEC tournament, losing in the quarterfinals to Vanderbilt in overtime 72-62.

East Tennessee State (27-7, 14-4 Southern) finished the regular season in a three-way tie with UNC Greensboro and Furman. The Buccaneers earned their way into the tournament as an automatic bid when they captured the conference tournament with a 79-74 win over UNC Greensboro.

Tulsa, Okla.

No. 6 SMU vs. No. 11 Providence/USC

Friday, 2:10 p.m. CT

SMU (30-4, 17-1 American) closed the regular season as champion of the American Athletic Conference, finishing a game ahead of Cincinnati. The Mustangs got the best of the Bearcats in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, defeating them 71-56.

Providence (20-12, 10-8 Big East) and USC (24-9, 10-8) will face each other in one of the First Four games. The Friars finished third in the Big East while the Trojans took fifth in the Pac-12. The winner will meet SMU in the Round of 64. The Friars and Trojans play Wednesday at 8:10 p.m. CT.

No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 New Mexico State

Friday, 11:40 a.m. CT

Baylor (25-7, 12-6 Big 12) finished second behind Kansas in the Big 12 during the regular season and lost to Kansas State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. Baylor enters the NCAA tournament with a top-20 defense, ranking 16th in the NCAA by allowing 62.7 points per game.

Big 12 Basketball Tournament - Quartefinals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Bears’ No. 3 seed matches their highest seed in school history (2010, 2012, 2015, 2016). They have also lost in the first round as a top-five seed in back-to-back seasons, a feat that no team has equaled three years in a row.

New Mexico State (28-5, 11-3 WAC) finished second behind CSU Bakersfield in the Western Athletic Conference but got the best of the Roadrunners in the WAC tournament championship game, taking the title with a 70-60 victory. This is the Aggies’ fifth NCAA tournament bid in the last six seasons.

Greenville, S.C.

No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 10 Marquette

Friday, 8:50 p.m. CT

South Carolina (22-10, 12-6 SEC) enters the tournament as an at-large bid. The Gamecocks finished third in the SEC and are in search of their first NCAA tournament win since 1973.

Marquette (19-12, 10-8 Big East) features the best perimeter shooter in college hoops—Markus Howard leads the NCAA in three-point shooting percentage, connecting on 54.9 percent of his shots from outside the arc. Howard also leads the Golden Eagles in scoring at 13.2 points per game and carried them to a third-place finish in the Big East.

If the Golden Eagles are able to pull off an upset victory, they will likely face head coach Steve Wojciechowski’s former team, Duke. Wojciechowski was an assistant with the Blue Devils from 1999-2014 following his four seasons as a member of the basketball team. Wojciechowski has yet to play Duke as a head coach.

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Troy

Friday, 6:20 p.m. CT

Duke (27-8, 11-7 ACC) currently holds the second-longest active streak of consecutive years making it into the tournament at 21. The Blue Devils trail only Kansas at 28 seasons. Despite finishing fifth in the ACC during the regular season, Duke has defeated South Region No. 1 seed North Carolina twice this season, including a 93-83 win over the Tar Heels in the ACC tournament semifinal. Duke then defeated Notre Dame 75-69 to win the tourney.

Troy (22-14, 10-8 Sun Belt) hopes to join Santa Clara as the only No. 15 seed ever to win an NCAA tournament game when it faces Duke. The Trojans finished sixth in the Sun Belt but managed to earn an automatic bid after winning the conference tournament championship game over Texas State 59-53. The Trojans did so while shooting only 5.9 percent from outside against the Bobcats. They were also outshot 41.7 percent to 35 percent from the field. The Trojans made up for their poor shooting from the field by going 16-of-19 from the free-throw line.