Zak Showalter sends Wisconsin into overtime with circus shot, Florida answers in OT
It looked bleak late for No. 8 seed Wisconsin against No. 4 seed Florida at Madison Square Garden.
The Gators led 72-64 with 1:44 remaining in regulation, but the Badgers weren’t finished.
Senior guard Bronson Koenig–who has refused to release his clutch reputation since burying a buzzer-beating game-winner to send the Badgers to last season’s Sweet 16–got the rally started for Wisconsin by splashing a three. Following a stop, sophomore forward Ethan Happ did what he does best by carving out some space underneath. Koenig missed his next shot, but Happ vacuumed up the offensive rebound and laid it in to draw within three. The third member of Wisconsin’s three-headed monster, Nigel Hayes, came up with a steal on the other end, and head coach Greg Gard called timeout to draw up one last play.
With Koenig limping, senior guard Zak Showalter got the call. And the fifth-year Badger delivered in a way that could only be scripted for March.
After he drained the shot, Showalter calmly looked over at Green Bay Packers quarterback and Wisconsin fan Aaron Rodgers a few rows from the floor and broke out Rodgers’ signature belt celebration.
Unfortunately for Wisconsin, Florida had their own miracle in the holster for overtime. With the Gators down two, point guard Chris Chiozza unleashed what was nearly a carbon copy of Showalter’s running triple and found nothing but net at the buzzer. Florida wins, 84-83.
The dramatic finish ended the Badgers’ season and the college careers of Hayes, Koenig, Brown and Showalter.
Wisconsin deserves a cap-tip for storming back and forcing overtime in bonkers fashion, and Florida deserves major props for punching back with a knockout blow. It was the best game of March Madness by far, fitted with an ending that we’ll be seeing on highlight reels for years.