Badgers earn No. 7 seed in East Region, will face Pittsburgh

Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes, left, reacts after teammate Vitto Brown scored during the second half against Maryland in College Park, Md. Wisconsin won 70-57.

Patrick Semansky/AP

The Wisconsin Badgers were given a No. 7 seed in the East Region in this year’s NCAA tournament and will face Pittsburgh on Friday in St. Louis.

If the Badgers get past that opener, they would likely have to face No. 2 seed Xavier.

After appearing in consecutive Final Fours including last year’s national championship game, Wisconsin had a 20-12 record this season but was far from a lock to make the NCAAs until recently.

The Badgers started the season 7-5 when head coach Bo Ryan abruptly resigned, leaving longtime assistant coach Greg Gard in charge. Wisconsin sunk to 9-9 before finding their feet under Gard, reeling off nine consecutive victories and 11 wins in 12 games overall.

However, Wisconsin did drop its last two games, at Purdue and against Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament, the latter preventing the Badgers from a tournament run and hopes of attaining a higher seed.

Pittsburgh (21-11) went 9-9 in the ACC and lost three of its final four games. Michael Young led the Panthers in scoring with 16 points per game.