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Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wisconsin Badgers: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction

Michael Young

Michael Young

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On Friday, the Wisconsin Badgers will be making their 18th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. However like the last two seasons, this Badgers team isn't a Final Four contender.

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The No. 7-seeded Badgers will face the No. 10-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers in the first round in St. Louis. Pittsburgh will be making its 13th Tournament appearance in 15 seasons.

No. 10 Pittsburgh Panthers (21-11) vs. No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (20-12)

When: 6:50 p.m. ET (Friday)

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Where: Scottrade Center (St. Louis)

TV: TNT

Line: Wisconsin -2

Keys for Pittsburgh

For Pittsburgh to win this game, the Panthers will need to get the ball to junior forward Michael Young. This season Young is averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per game. Pittsburgh also will need to get Jamel Artis (14.4 ppg) and James Robinson (10.3 ppg) involved as well.

Keys for Wisconsin

If Wisconsin plays like how it did in its 70-58 loss to Nebraska in last week's Big Ten Tournament, the Badgers will have an early exit from the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska scored 30 points in the paint, so Wisconsin will need to rebound better and defend the paint better on Friday.

Final Analysis

Pittsburgh is a tough, gritty team and that is bad news for Wisconsin. The Panthers also are one of the most unselfish teams in the Tournament and that, along with their talent should be enough for a close victory over Wisconsin.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 66, Wisconsin 63

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.