Some connections are obvious, some are a little bit of a stretch and some are absurd. But trust us: every team in the NCAA men's basketball tournament has a connection to the Dairy State if you look hard enough.
(1) VILLANOVA – Bradley Center bombshell. On Jan. 24, Villanova was ranked No. 1 in the nation, and the Wildcats were up 15 points in the second half against Marquette at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. But the Golden Eagles stormed back, and Katin Reinhardt’s free throws with 11.6 seconds left helped Marquette stage a 74-72, court-storming victory – the second time the program had beaten the team ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll (matching the 2003 Elite Eight win over Kentucky). Nova had been ranked No. 2 in the coaches poll at the time. It was a great moment for Marquette, which scrapped together enough wins to make the tournament. Nova, meanwhile, finished 31-3 and wound up as a No. 1 seed.
Tourney trip: 37th (5 straight years). Tourney record: 57-35. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated UW-Milwaukee in 2014 first round, 73-53; Defeated Marquette in 1980 first round, 77-59. Leading scorer: Josh Hart (18.6). Best name: Donte DiVincenzo
(16) MOUNT SAINT MARY'S – Cradle of Bishops. The Mount Saint Mary's seminary has produced more than 2,600 priests and is referred to as the Cradle of Bishops. In fact, the first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, 1826 graduate John McCloskey, graduated from the seminary and became the first American cardinal in 1875. Today, the Archbishop of New York is none other than Timothy Dolan, who is the 10th person to hold that office. Dolan served as Archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009, and he wore a Cheesehead hat during his homily at an outdoor mass the year of his installment.
Tourney trip: 5th (first since 2014). Tourney record: 1-4. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Elijah Long (15.4). Best name: Mawdo Sallah
(16) NEW ORLEANS – Assistant coach Bill Duany. Second-year assistant Bill Duany comes from a family of college basketball players, including himself at Eastern Illinois and Indiana. He had two sisters play Division 1 ball (Nok at Georgetown and Nyagon at Bradley), brother Kueth played at Syracuse, and oldest brother Duany Duany was a popular component of the Wisconsin Badgers run to the Final Four in 2000. Duany Duany averaged 5.2 points per game in his senior year during the 1999-2000 run.
Tourney trip: 5th (last in 1996). Tourney record: 1-4. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Erik Thomas (19.7). Best name: Christavious Gill
(8) WISCONSIN – Located in Wisconsin. The Badgers were picked to win the Big Ten by many preseason polls, and though a late-season swoon knocked Bucky out of the top 25 altogether, Wisconsin still garnered the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The senior class of Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter has occasionally served as a lightning rod, but they've been a massive part of the program's two Final Four appearances and a Sweet 16 follow-up last season. Showalter (Germantown) and Koenig (La Crosse Aquinas) are two in-state products, joining Brevin Prtizl (DePere), Matt Ferris (Appleton Xavier), TJ Schlundt (Oconomoowc and SJNMA) and Aaron Moesch (Green Bay Southwest). Coach Greg Gard attended Southwestern High School and UW-Platteville.
Tourney trip: 23rd (19 straight years). Tourney record: 36-21. Facing (other) Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Bronson Koenig (14.0). Best name: D'Mitrik Trice
(9)VIRGINIA TECH – Buzz. Brent Langdon “Buzz” Williams has become a controversial figure in Milwaukee, where he led the Marquette men’s basketball team to an Elite Eight, two more Sweet 16s and five NCAA Tournaments during his six-year tenure as head coach from 2008-14. He left after the 2013-14 season somewhat abruptly, and now he has the Hokies in the Dance for the first time in a decade. Marquette, for what it’s worth, is also back to the tourney for the first time since Buzz left.
Tourney trip: 9th (last in 2007). Tourney record: 6-8. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay in 1996 first round, 61-49. Leading scorer: Zach LeDay (16.3). Best name: Khadim Sy
(5)VIRGINIA – Tony Bennett. One of the nation’s most respected coaches, Tony Bennett has turned Virginia into a powerhouse, but he’s still heavily associated with his home state of Wisconsin. He played for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay from 1989-92 and finished his career as the Mid-Continent Conference’s leader in points and assists, and his 49.7 career 3-point percentage is still an NCAA record. He played at UWGB for his father, Dick, who ultimately went on to lead the Wisconsin Badgers to a Final Four appearance in 2000. He was just named to the inaugural Hall of Fame class for the Summit League, formerly the Mid-Con. Virginia’s top player last year, Malcolm Brogdon, has been one of the best rookies in the NBA this year playing for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Tourney trip: 21st (4 straight years). Tourney record: 28-20. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: London Perrantes (12.5). Best name: Jack Salt
(12) UNC-WILMINGTON – Keatts and Joe Alexander. Before head coach Kevin Keatts came to Wilmington, he served as coach at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, where he oversaw a powerful prep program that won two national championships. He coached several future NBA players, and the one eventually drafted the highest was Joe Alexander, who had a decorated career at West Virginia and became the Milwaukee Bucks No. 8 overall selection in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft. Alexander never panned out in the NBA, but Keatts is about to be one of the hottest up-and-coming names in the NCAA coaching carousel.
Tourney trip: 6th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 1-5. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: CJ Bryce (17.6). Best name: Devontae Cacok
(4) FLORIDA – Governors out of the running. Both Florida and Wisconsin have governors (or in Florida’s case, ex-governor) who figured prominently into the race for the Republican Presidential nomination during this last campaign cycle – at least, that was the case early in the race. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker bowed out on September 21, 2015, and Florida ex-governor Jeb Bush lasted until Feb. 20, 2016. Bush, the son of former president George H.W. Bush and brother of another ex-president, George W. Bush, was governor of the state until 2007. Both Walker and Jeb Bush became footnotes in what became a highly contested and dramatic election season.
Tourney trip: 20th (last in 2014). Tourney record: 42-17. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2006 second round. Leading scorer: KeVaughn Allen (13.9). Best name: Gorjak Gak
(13) EAST TENNESSEE STATE – David Burrell.
Last year, a Milwaukee Hamilton graduate, Darnell Harris, played on another Tennessee team (Middle Tennessee State) in the NCAA Tournament and pulled the biggest upset of the year. This time around, will another Hamilton product get in on the act? David Burrell attended SW Tennessee CC before joining the Bucs this year, and the junior has played in all 33 games. He sees the floor about 17 minutes and scores 7.5 points per game. Burrell was a teammate of current NBA player Kevon Looney at Hamilton. Burrell scored 5 points in his team's Southern Conference championship win over top-seeded UNC-Greensboro.
Tourney trip: 10th (last in 2010). Tourney record: 2-10. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 1968 third-place game, 69-57. Leading scorer: TJ Cromer (19.1). Best name: Hanner Mosquera-Perea
(6) SMU – Kevin Dunleavy, Jr. One of the program’s graduate managers is Kevin Dunleavy, in his second season with the program after completing his college career at SMU. Dunleavy’s uncle, Mike, coached for the Milwaukee Bucks from 1992-96 (and also played for the Bucks from 1984-85), and his cousin, Mike Dunleavy, Jr., played for the Bucks among his many stops in the NBA, from 2011-13. Leading scorer Semi Ojeleye (18.3 points per game) was initially offered a scholarship by Wisconsin but ultimately chose Duke (and has since transferred to SMU). Also, 6-11 big man Harry Froling let SMU in December and enrolled at Marquette. He'll be eligible midway through next season for the Golden Eagles.
Tourney trip: 12th (last in 2015). Tourney record: 10-13. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Semi Ojeleye (19.0). Best name: Ben Emelogu II (and Ojeleye)
(11) PROVIDENCE –Indian Hills teammate. Emmitt Holt, the second-leading scorer for the Friars, played last year at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, where he averaged 11.6 points and 6.4 rebounds with a crazy 69 percent shooting percentage. Holt’s teammate at Indian Hills was Jerelle DeBerry, formerly of Destiny High School in Milwaukee – and a lot of other places. DeBerry started his career at Milwaukee Hamilton, at one point verbally committed to UW-Green Bay, finished his career at Destiny, then Indian Hills, then Kent State, and now he’s transferred to Orem, Utah to play with Utah Valley of the Western Athletic Conference beginning next season.
Tourney trip: 19th (4 straight years). Tourney record: 15-19. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 1997 first round, 81-59. Leading scorer: Rodney Bullock (15.7). Best name: Alpha Diallo
(11) USC – Justin Wilcox. For one pretty great season, University of Wisconsin football defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox helped the Badgers become one of the best defenses in the country. Wilcox joined the Badgers from USC shortly after UW hooked up with the Trojans in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego (the Badgers won), and he has since taken the head coaching position at Cal. At the time, there were rumors that USC would try to lure Wisconsin’s current defensive coordinator, Dave Aranda, to fill the same position at USC, though Aranda ultimately chose LSU. Now, UW alumnus Jim Leonhard holds the DC spot. Marquette senior graduate transfer Katin Reinhardt, who has made a number of big shots this year, played at USC last year. One last note: USC was on the losing end of the famous "Miracle in Milwaukee" when Georgia Tech won a buzzer beater in the second round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
Tourney trip: 18th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 11-20. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Bennie Boatwright (14.6). Best name: Chimezie Metu
(3) BAYLOR – The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. Baylor University shares history with Mary-Hardin Baylor in nearby Belton (roughly 45 miles from Waco), once considered the “Baylor Female College” before spinning off into its own operation. Baylor itself is named for Judge R.E.B. Baylor, and his remains are on the Mary-Hardin Baylor campus (the school is named for Mary and John Hardin while still keeping Baylor as part of its name). Mary-Hardin Baylor won the NCAA Division III championship in football in December, edging the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh by a 10-7 score in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. It was Oshkosh’s first trip to the title game (Mount Union of Ohio and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater usually have standing reservations for the title game).
Tourney trip: 11th (4 straight years). Tourney record: 11-12. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2014 Sweet 16, 69-52. Leading scorer: Johnathan Motley (17.3). Best name: Jo Lual-Acuil Jr.
(14) NEW MEXICO STATE – One (sort of) shining moment. Kettle Moraine High School boys basketball coach Brad Bestor can be seen briefly in the 1999 "One Shining Moment" montage, wearing his New Mexico State jersey as future Milwaukee Bucks center Jamaal Magloire of Kentucky blows by for a dunk. It's a fun relic from Bestor's brief trip to the NCAA Tournament as a member of the Aggies program, and today he can also say one of his former players has made the trip to the Dance as well. Paul Miller, who just finished his junior season at North Dakota State, appeared as a freshman two years ago.
Tourney trip: 23rd (last in 2015). Tourney record: 10-24. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Ian Baker (16.6). Best name: Jemerrio Jones
(7) SOUTH CAROLINA – Olympic speed. South Carolina produces a number of Olympic-level track and field athletes, and that includes Otis Harris, who ran in the Athens Olympics in 2004 and won gold in the 4x400-meter relay. Harris also took silver in the open 400 behind teammate Jeremy Wariner. Both were on the same relay with Wisconsin native Andrew Rock, who was an alternate for the 4x400 final but ran in one of the qualifying heats to take home a gold medal. Rock, who grew up in Stratford, was a nine-time national champion and 17-time All-American at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, and he also took gold at the World Championships in 2005 in Helsinki, Finland, in the 4x400. Rock to this day holds the state Division 3 record in the 300 hurdles (38.10 seconds) and won four state titles in the 200, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and long jump in 2000.
Tourney trip: 9th (last in 2004). Tourney record: 4-9. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Sindarius Thornwell (21.2). Best name: Ran Tut
(10) MARQUETTE – Located in Wisconsin. The Golden Eagles snapped a three-year drought from the tournament and made the Dance for the first time under coach Steve Wojciechowski. Marquette doesn't traditionally rely on as many prep players as Wisconsin, but senior center Luke Fischer hails from Germantown and famously proposed to his girlfriend on the team's Senior Night. Neenah's Matt Heldt will take the mantle from Fischer as one of the team's top posts next year, and Dominican's Duane Wilson has been a key contributor, both off the bench and in the starting lineup, this season, as has Stevens Point freshman Sam Hauser. Walk-on Cam Marotta hails from Homestead.
Tourney trip: 32nd (last in 2013). Tourney record: 41-32. Facing (other) Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Markus Howard (13.2). Best name: Haanif Cheatham
(2) DUKE – Wojo. For the first time in three years, Marquette is headed to the NCAA Tournament, coached by Steve Wojciechowski, whose connections to Duke run deep. Wojo was a point guard at Duke from 1994 to 1998, then an assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski before joining the Golden Eagles two seasons ago. Top Marquette assistant Chris Carrawell graduated from Duke in 2000 and also was a top player in the program. Wojo's troops have had an interesting season, going 5-1 against presumed Big East heavyweights Villanova, Xavier and Creighton, but still barely getting into the dance.
Tourney trip: 41st (22 straight years). Tourney record: 107-35. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Wisconsin in 2015 National Championship Game, 68-63; Defeated Marquette in 1994 Sweet 16, 59-49. Leading scorer: Luke Kennard (20.2). Best name: Antonio Vrankovic
(15) TROY – Two sides of Wisconsin sports coin. Among the Troy graduates are two athletes who played opposite roles in the fortunes of Wisconsin sports fans mere months apart. On Jan. 20, 2008, Troy alumnus Lawrence Tynes kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime for the New York Giants to shock the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, a contest recalled as Brett Favre's final in a Packers uniform. But another Troy man, Mike Rivera, played an unsung-hero's role in the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers' surge to the first playoff appearance in a generation, a Wild Card berth secured on the final day of the season. In a stretch run filled with memorable highlights, few remember the backup catcher's bases-clearing, two-out double in the eighth inning of a game Aug. 10 against Washington that tied the score and allowed the Brewers to win on a Gabe Kapler home run in extras. Rivera seldom saw the field behind starter Jason Kendall, but he found a way to make his presence felt, particularly on offense.
Tourney trip: 2nd (last in 2003) Tourney record: 0-1. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Jordan Varnado (16.5). Best name: Aaron Ariri
(1) KANSAS – Brewster legacy. Devonte Graham, one of the top players on the Jayhawks, attended Brewster Academy in New Hampshire as a post-graduate and led the team to a 33-0 record and the national prep championship in 2013-14. One year later, Brewster had multiple Wisconsin connections when it repeated its national prep title. Current Badger Alex Illikainen, a Grand Rapids, Minnesota, native, was a power forward on the 2014-15 team that went 34-1, and Whitefish Bay High School product Joe Sherburne, now one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters at Maryland-Baltimore County, also spent his senior year on the team. Jon Mays, coordinator of student-athlete development at Kansas, was a four-year basketball player at Lawrence University in Appleton and a former assistant coach in the program.
Tourney trip: 46th (28 straight years). Tourney record: 100-44. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 2013 Final Four, 94-61; Lost to Marquette in 1974 Final Four, 64-51. Leading scorer: Frank Mason III (20.8) Best name: (tie) Udoka Azubuike and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
(16) NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL – Transfer ties. NC Central relies heavily on transfers; top scorer Patrick Cole has already transferred twice in his career. The Eagles have had some Wisconsin players who've passed through in the past couple years, including former Wisconsin Mr. Basketball Nimrod Hilliard, who transferred from Lamar, and Jamal Ferguson, a Virginian who began his career at Marquette.
Tourney trip: 2nd (last in 2014). Tourney record: 0-1. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Patrick Cole (19.5). Best name: Del'Vin Dickerson
(16) UC-DAVIS – Garrison Goode. The 6-7 sophomore from Whitefish Bay Dominican was part of a state title in 2015 after transferring from Marquette University High School. He saw action in 29 games last year at UC-Davis as a freshman, primarily off the bench, and this year he's played in 22 games (five starts) and averages 2.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Tourney trip: First ever. Tourney record: 0-0. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Brynton Lemar (16.0). Best name: Georgi Funtarov
(8) MIAMI – Strength coach Steve Felde. Steve Felde, once director of strength and conditioning at UW-Milwaukee from 2007-12, is now Director of Olympic Sports with the Hurricanes after a brief stop at the University of Minnesota. He contributed to 34 Horizon League Championships with the sports at UWM, with significant progress from the volleyball and baseball teams. The Milwaukee native also graduated from Concordia University in Mequon. Now, he’s down south, though he remains an allegiant Packers fan. Miami is also the alma mater of Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun and former Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields. South Milwaukee alum Trey McKinney-Jones was on the Miami team that reached the Sweet 16 in 2013.
Tourney trip: 9th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 8-8. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 2013 Sweet 16, 71-61. Leading scorer: Davon Reed (15.0). Best name: Ebuka Izundu
(9) MICHIGAN STATE – The Trice Connection. University of Wisconsin freshman D’Mitrik Trice has had a breakout season and looks to make a name for himself in the Big Ten like his older brother, Travis, who had an outstanding career at Michigan State. In 2015, when Michigan State made the Final Four, Trice was named East Region Most Outstanding Player, part of a season in which he averaged 15.3 points per game. D’Mitrik, a member of the All-Newcomer Team in the Big Ten this year, averages 6.1 points per game. Wisconsin, of course, also made the 2015 Final Four, topping Kentucky in the other semifinal before falling to Duke in the title game.
Tourney trip: 31st (20 straight years). Tourney record: 63-29. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 2007 first round, 61-49; Defeated Wisconsin in 2000 Final Four, 53-41; Defeated UW-Green Bay in 1991 first round, 60-58; Defeated Marquette in 1959 Sweet 16, 74-69. Leading scorer: Miles Bridges (16.5). Best name: Lourawls Nairn Jr.
(5) IOWA STATE – Deonte Burton and many more. As was the case last year, Iowa State has as prominent a Wisconsin presence as any out-of-state program in the nation. It starts with seniors Deonte Burton (Milwaukee Vincent) and Matt Thomas (Onalaska), both of whom have started every game this season. Burton has been huge at times, averaging 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, leading the team in the latter category. Burton began his college career at Marquette before transferring. Thomas averages 12.0 points per game and shoots 46 percent from 3-point range. Senior Darrell Bowie (Tosa East) became a graduate transfer for the Cyclones after playing for Northern Illinois, and he averages 5.7 points with nine starts this year. Junior Donovan Jackson, formerly of Milwaukee Pius, is new to the team after transferring from Iowa Western Community College. He’s played in all 32 games and is the top option off the bench at 6.3 points per game.
Tourney trip: 19th (6 straight years). Tourney record: 18-18. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Monte Morris (16.3). Best name: Nazareth Mitrou-Long
(12) NEVADA – Belvedere goes to college. The University of Nevada campus in Reno was the filming location for the 1949 American comedy "Mr. Belvedere Goes to College," following genius Lynn Belvedere as he enrolls in pursuit of a four-year degree in just one year. Initially arising in the book "Belvedere" by Gwen Davenport, the character was part of several movies and, of course, a sitcom that ran from 1985 to 1990, where Christopher Hewitt plays the title role and serves as a butler for the Owens family. The patriarch of that family, George, was played by none other than Bob Uecker, the famous radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers. Uecker maintained his full-time gig with the Brewers during the filming of the series. Nevada graduate assistant coach Peter Herman is a graduate of Arcadia High School.
Tourney trip: 7th (last in 2011). Tourney record: 4-6. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Marcus Marshall (19.8). Best name: Devearl Ramsey
(4) PURDUE – Linc to the past. UW-Green Bay head basketball coach Linc Darner, who led the Phoenix to an unlikely appearance in the NCAA Tournament last year, played basketball at Purdue and was a teammate of current Purdue coach Matt Painter. The Boilermakers actually faced UWGB multiple times when Darner was there, falling by a 69-53 count in 1991 at Mackey Arena and barely getting past UWGB in the Great Alaska Shootout two years later. In 1995, when Darner was a grad assistant at Purdue, the Boilermakers barely survived UW-Green Bay in the NCAA Tournament’s first round.
Tourney trip: 29th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 35-28. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2000 Elite 8, 64-60; Defeated UW-Green Bay in 1995 first round, 49-48; Defeated Marquette in 1969 Elite 8, 75-73. Leading scorer: Caleb Swanigan (18.7). Best name: Basil Smotherman
(13) VERMONT – Cam Ward. The Marshall High School product is a junior for the Catamounts and was named Co-Sixth Man of the Year in 2015 two years ago as a freshman. Last year, he averaged 9.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, though his numbers have fallen off a bit this year, down to 4.2 points and 1.2 boards per contest in about 15 minutes per game. He has struggled with his shot this year, hovering around 35 percent after shooting 42 percent last year.
Tourney trip: 6th (last in 2012). Tourney record: 6-8. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Anthony Lamb (12.6). Best name: Drew Urquhart
(6) CREIGHTON – Toby Hegner. The Berlin, Wisconsin native Toby Hegner is in his junior season for the Bluejays, scoring 5.4 points per game with 3.5 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per contest. He’s been with the program for four years (counting his redshirt season) after setting the school record at Berlin with 1,213 points and 500 rebounds, part of a first-team All-State showing as a senior.
Tourney trip: 20th (last in 2014). Tourney record: 12-20. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Marcus Foster (18.5). Best name: Martin Krampelj
(11) RHODE ISLAND – Jarvis Garrett. Garrett spent two seasons playing at West Allis Central High School, then relocated to Fitchburg, Mass., to pay for Notre Dame Prep. He averaged 24.0 points and 5.0 rebounds, with 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game there, and now he's a junior for the Rams. Some may remember he was fitted for a mask last year after a facial injury, and he's battled injuries this season that has limited his overall output, but he still averages 6.7 points.
Tourney trip: 9th (last in 1999). Tourney record: 6-8. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: E.C. Matthews (14.8). Best name: Cyril Langevine
(3) OREGON – Duck tours. Many may associate Ducks with Oregon, but the first-ever “duck tour” company was started in 1946 by Mel Flath and Bob Unger in Wisconsin Dells. The duck tour concept, featuring vehicles that can give tours on land and convert into a boat for a water component to the tour, has become very famous in Boston, Seattle, Liverpool and London, among other places, but the original just celebrated its 70th anniversary and is a staple of the Wisconsin tourism center.
Tourney trip: 15th (5 straight years). Tourney record: 19-13. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2015 second round, 72-65; Lost to Wisconsin in 2014 second round, 85-77. Leading scorer: Dillon Brooks (16.3). Best name: Payton Pritchard
(14) IONA – Sam Cassell Jr. He lacks his father's characteristic "alien" look, but the son of Sam Cassell is spending a graduate year with the Gaels after finishing his studies at UConn. The elder Sam, of course, was a key piece of the Milwaukee Bucks run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001 and spent 15 years in the NBA. The younger scores 11.0 points per game for the Gaels and is their third-leading scorer, as well as being second on the team in assists.
Tourney trip: 12th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 1-11. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Jordan Washington (17.9). Best name: Deyshonee Much
(7) MICHIGAN – The Harbaughs. Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh counts as one of the most high-profile college football coaches in America, and he’ll surely spend an occasional holiday in the Milwaukee area, with parents Jack and Jackie living in Mequon. They settled north of Milwaukee when Jack became associate athletic director at Marquette University. When he was there, son-in-law Tom Crean (husband to daughter Joanie) was head coach of the Marquette basketball team. Jim and brother John Harbaugh famously coached against each other in the Super Bowl in early 2013, with John’s Ravens defeating Jim’s 49ers.
Tourney trip: 27th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 51-25. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 1974 Elite 8, 72-70. Leading scorer: Derrick Walton Jr. (15.0). Best name: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman
(10) OKLAHOMA STATE – Heir Jordan.
The pride of Homestead High School in Mequon, professional golfer Jordan Niebrugge attended Oklahoma State and turned pro in 2016. Though his career on the PGA Tour is just beginning, he opened eyes in 2015 when he tied for sixth at the British Open despite holding amateur status at the time. He’s been invited to participate in two Walker Cups – essentially, Ryder Cups for amateur golfers – and though he didn’t make any cuts in six pro tournaments in 2016, will we see him in the nearby U.S. Open in June?
Tourney trip: 28th (last in 2015). Tourney record: 38-26. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 1993 first round, 74-62. Leading scorer: Jawun Evans (19.0). Best name: Lucas N'Guessan
(2) LOUISVILLE – Bat boys. Louisville has featured some former Wisconsin prep basketball players on its roster – including Reece Gaines of Madison West and Jerry Smith of Wauwatosa East – but the current connection between the athletics program and the state is in baseball. Eau Claire native Jake Sparger was a key piece of the team’s bullpen last year, Kenosha’s Justin Lavey is a freshman on the team, and South Milwaukee’s Matt McCarty is not yet on the roster but is attending the school to play baseball there. For fans of the local big league team, last year’s Milwaukee Brewers first-round draft choice (and top-three prospect), Corey Ray, also hailed from the University of Louisville.
Tourney trip: 42nd (last in 2015). Tourney record: 75-42. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Donovan Mitchell (15.7). Best name: Mangok Mathiang
(15) JACKSONVILLE STATE – Battered by Bison. This is the first NCAA Division 1 tournament appearance for the Gamecocks, though the athletics program has had some success in football. In fact, Jacksonville State reached the FCS championship game in 2015, where it fell to North Dakota State and its roster chock full of Wisconsinites. That includes top punt returner Eric Perkins (Kewaskum), kicker Cam Pedersen (Eau Claire Regis), offensive lineman Jeremy Kelly (Somerset), defensive tackle Brian Schaetz (Denmark), Grant Morgan (Oshkosh North) and Nate Tanguay (Mukwonago) and defensive end Brad Ambrosius (West De Pere).
Tourney trip: First ever. Tourney record: 0-0. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Malcolm Drumwright (12.6). Best name: Norbertas Giga
(1) NORTH CAROLINA – The chase for Malik Zaire. Former Notre Dame quarterback appeared poised to choose a new home and had narrowed his transfer options to Wisconsin and North Carolina in December. He later announced that decision would ultimately arrive in mid-April, so we’ll probably hear soon. North Carolina’s quarterback last year, Mitch Trubisky, will be one of the top picks in the NFL Draft, so the opening is there, but he would be an interesting new element to a Badgers team that brings back a ton of talent from last year’s Big Ten West Division champion.
Tourney trip: 48th (7 straight years). Tourney record: 117-45. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2015 Sweet 16, 79-72; Defeated Marquette in 2011 Sweet 16, 81-63; Defeated Wisconsin in 2005 Elite 8, 88-82; Lost to Marquette in 1977 National Championship, 67-59. Leading scorer: Justin Jackson (18.1). Best name: Kanler Coker
(16) TEXAS SOUTHERN – Demontrae Jefferson. Jefferson, a Milwaukee native, played six games as a freshman for Milwaukee Hamilton and averaged 18 points per game, but he didn't suit up in the Badger State thereafter, making his name at Believe Prep Academy in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The diminutive guard is second on the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game despite his 5-7 frame, and he became a bit of a buzzworthy sensation on the AAU circuit.
Tourney trip: 7th (last in 2015). Tourney record: 0-6. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Zach Lofton (17.4). Best name: Tyree Bynum
(8) ARKANSAS – Bret Bielema. As the head football coach at the University of Wisconsin, Bret Bielema compiled a record of 68-24 in his six seasons, and he became the third coach in NCAA history to win 12 games in his first season as coach with a win over Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl. He won three Big Ten titles before Arkansas and Bielema crossed paths again, when he announced he was leaving in December of 2012 to take the head coaching position for the Razorbacks. He’s had two winning records in four years within the brutal Southeastern Conference.
Tourney trip: 31st (last in 2015). Tourney record: 41-30. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 1996 second round, 65-56. Leading scorer: Dusty Hannahs (14.6). Best name: Brachen Hazen
(9) SETON HALL – They got game. Seton Hall’s second-leading scorer Desi Rodriguez hails from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York. It happens to be the high school for which the fictional Jesus Shuttlesworth played basketball for in the 1998 Spike Lee film “He Got Game,” a story about the pressures surrounding a star player’s college choice. The role of Jesus was played by first-time actor Ray Allen, who was then a shooting guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. Allen, who spent seven seasons in Milwaukee, went on to become a 10-time All Star and will be in the NBA Hall of Fame eventually. Coincidentally, Lincoln High School is where much-hyped high-school recruit Stephon Marbury graduated in real life. The Bucks drafted Marbury with the No. 4 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft but traded him immediately for Allen, who was initially taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 5.
Tourney trip: 10th (last in 2006). Tourney record: 15-10. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Khadeen Carrington (17.1). Best name: Veer Singh
(5) MINNESOTA – Akeem Springs. One of several players who left the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee this past season following the departure of head coach Rob Jeter, Akeem Springs took his 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game to the west, where he had been a boon for a Gophers team on the rise. Unfortunately, Springs suffered an Achilles injury in the Big Ten Tournament that will likely end his tenure in the Twin Cities. He started 14 games this season and averaged 9.6 points with 66 makes from beyond the arc to serve as the team’s top 3-point threat. His 16 points against Wisconsin earlier this year proved problematic for the Badgers, who had to win the game in overtime.
Tourney trip: 13th (last in 2013). Tourney record: 13-12. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 1972 third-place game, 77-72. Leading scorer: Nate Mason (15.3). Best name: Gaston Diedhiou
(12) MIDDLE TENNESSEE -- Darnell Harris. The Milwaukee Hamilton product graduated from MTSU last year, but not before he helped his squad pull one of the unlikeliest upsets in NCAA Tournament history. He was the team's fourth-leading scorer as a senior last year, taking a circuitous route to Division 1 after starting in 2012-13 with UW-Whitewater. In the 90-81 win over No. 2-seeded Michigan State in last year’s first round, Harris scored 15 points with three rebounds and two assists as the 15th-seeded Blue Raiders shocked the college basketball world. Harris had a team-best 11 points in the second round, but the Blue Raiders fell to Syracuse, 75-50.
Tourney trip: 9th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 3-8. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: JaCorey Williams (17.5). Best name: Giddy Potts
(4) BUTLER – The Band Plays On. Michael Leckrone, who is director of bands and has been leader of the marching band at the University of Wisconsin since 1969, graduated from Butler. The celebrated conductor has composed or arranged more than 200 published pieces of music and has written two textbooks used by marching-band directors, and his oversight of the “Fifth Quarter” has become an institution at Badgers football games. His father once composed part of the score for the movie “Hoosiers,” which famously shot its state-final scene at Hinkle Fieldhouse – still home to the Bulldogs.
Tourney trip: 15th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 21-14. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 2013 second round, 74-72; Defeated Wisconsin in 2011 Sweet 16, 61-54. Leading scorer: Kelan Martin (16.1). Best name: Andrew Chrabascz
(13) WINTHROP – The Frisbee King. Winthrop is located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and its campus serves as home to the United States Disc Golf Championship each year. Menomonee Falls native Barry Schultz, a PDGA Hall of Famer, is one of three men to win that title more than once, with three championships to his name (the last in 2006). The 47-year-old is one of the sport’s most decorated slingers, with multiple World Championships (two Open, one Masters) to his name. He’s one of two men to earn an Open and Masters (over-40) title.
Tourney trip: 10th (last in 2010). Tourney record: 1-9. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Keon Johnson (22.5). Best name: Duby Okeke
(6) CINCINNATI – Oktoberfest. The largest Oktoberfest celebration in the United States is in Cincinnati, bringing roughly 500,000 people each year. Wisconsin, of course, loves itself some Oktoberfest celebrations, with notable festivals in Milwaukee, LaCrosse, Appleton and New Glarus. With roughly 40 percent of the state’s population claiming German heritage, September is frequently a time to drink beer and dance. Popular Milwaukee-based sports radio talk show host Bill Michaels, who has a statewide network and can be heard in the Milwaukee area on 105.7 FM, The Fan, was born and grew up in Cincinnati. He’s been on Milwaukee’s radio waves since 1999.
Tourney trip: 31st (7 straight years). Tourney record: 44-29. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 1994 first round, 80-72; Lost to Marquette in 1977 first round, 66-51. Leading scorer: Jacob Evans (13.8). Best name: John Koz
(11) KANSAS STATE – Lordy lordy, it's Jordy. One of the more popular players in Green Bay Packers history is Jordy Nelson, a Kansas State graduate drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. The Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowler was named the league's Comeback Player of the Year this past season after racking up 97 receptions for 1,257 yards in the year after a torn ACL cost him all of 2015-16. He posted a league-best 14 touchdowns. He is approaching 500 catches in his career and has nearly 7,500 yards. Current basketball coach Bruce Weber, who has been considered on the hot seat at times this year, is a Milwaukee native.
Tourney trip: 29th (last in 2014). Tourney record: 33-32. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2011 second round, 70-65; Lost to Wisconsin in 2008 second round, 72-55; Lost to Marquette in 1977 second round, 67-66. Leading scorer: Wesley Iwundu (12.5). Best name: Kade Kinnamon (and Iwundu).
(11) WAKE FOREST – Austin Arians. The first Wisconsin native to play for the Demon Deacons in 30 years, Arians joined Wake Forest as a graduate transfer after playing three years at UW-Milwaukee, where he started 69 games and averaged 9.8 points and 3.4 rebounds. Arians, who attended Madison Edgewood in high school, was one of several Panthers who left the program following the departure of coach Rob Jeter. He has started every game for the Deacs this year, averaging 8.2 points per game.
Tourney trip: 23rd (last in 2010). Tourney record: 28-22. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 1977 Elite Eight, 82-68. Leading scorer: John Collins (19.1). Best name: Konstantinos Mitoglou
(3) UCLA – Kevon Looney. Milwaukee Hamilton graduate Kevon Looney played one season for UCLA in 2014-15, earning second-team All Conference before jumping to the NBA, where he’s now a member of the Golden State Warriors after getting taken with the 30th overall pick (first round). Looney has battled hip injuries for much of his career thus far, one that delayed his start at UCLA and led to labrum surgery that limited him to five games as an NBA rookie last year. He’s had 9 minutes per game in 48 contests this year.
Tourney trip: 48th (last in 2015). Tourney record: 103-40. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: TJ Leaf (16.2). Best name: Gyorgy Goloman
(14) KENT STATE – The vote that saved Miller Park. Wisconsin Republican George Petak, originally from Ohio and a graduate of Kent State, joined the Wisconsin State Senate out of Racine in 1990. He's perhaps most known for his 1995 decision to change his vote on the controversial funding plan for Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. His deciding vote allowed a sales tax increase that put the stadium construction into motion. Though funding for the stadium remains a touchy issue to this day, the park has been in place since 2001 and helped enable the Brewers to outdraw like-sized markets in MLB. Petak lost a recall election nine months later and he became the first state legislator successfully recalled from office.
Tourney trip: 6th (last in 2008). Tourney record: 4-5. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Jimmy Hall (18.9). Best name: Adonis De La Rosa
(7) DAYTON – The youngest Antetokounmpo. With Giannis Antetokounmpo continuing to light it up for the Milwaukee Bucks, there will surely be more and more expectations heaped upon younger brother Kostas, who helped Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay win a state title last year and is a current member of the Dayton Flyers program. Kostas, who as on the roster two years ago when Dominican won a state title, as well, is redshirting this year and could be an intriguing storyline should Archie Miller pursue another coaching job, as is rumored.
Tourney trip: 18th (4 straight years). Tourney record: 19-19. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Charles Cooke (16.2). Best name: Scoochie Smith
(10) WICHITA STATE – Darral Willis Jr. New to the program as a JUCO transfer from Mississippi, Darral Willis played his prep career at Madison Memorial, where he broke out as a senior to become an All-State selection in Division 1. He averaged 17.3 points per game and 10 rebounds en route to being Big Eight Player of the Year as a senior. He averages 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game with the Shockers this season, good for a spot on the Missouri Valley All-Newcomer team.
Tourney trip: 14th (6 straight years). Tourney record: 17-14. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Markis McDuffie (11.8) Best name: Rauno Nurger
(2) KENTUCKY – Randall Cobb. Kentucky is a basketball factory that produces some of the best players in the NBA, but while the football team struggles to keep pace in the Southeast Conference while the basketball team has a powerhouse, there are still a handful of UK players in the NFL. That includes Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, a trustworthy option for quarterback Aaron Rodgers who has caught some memorable passes through the years, including a game-winning touchdown against the Bears to seal a playoff spot in 2013 and a Hail Mary completion in this past season’s playoff opener to end the first half against the New York Giants.
Tourney trip: 56th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 123-50. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2015 national semifinal, 71-64; Defeated Wisconsin in 2014 national semifinal, 74-73; Lost to Marquette in 2008 first round, 74-66; Lost to Marquette in 2003 Elite 8, 83-69; Defeated Wisconsin in 2003 Sweet 16, 63-57; Lost to Marquette in 1994 second round, 75-63; Defeated Marquette in 1975 first round, 76-54; Defeated Marquette in 1972 Sweet 16, 85-69; Lost to Marquette in 1971 regional third-place game, 91-74; Lost to Marquette in 1969 second round, 81-74; Defeated Marquette in 1968 second round, 107-89; Defeated Marquette in 1959 regional third-place game, 98-69; Lost to Marquette in 1955 second round, 79-71. Leading scorer: Malik Monk (20.5) Best name: Edrice "Bam" Adebayo
(15) NORTHERN KENTUCKY – Motor City Madness. Northern Kentucky is into the dance for the first time in program history -- in a year where it was eligible for the tournament the first time after a mandatory four-year period of waiting as it converted from Division II to Division I. To get there, the Norse defeated UW-Milwaukee -- a 10th seed with 23 losses heading into the title game -- in the Horizon League title game. It was part of an insane league tourney in Detroit, where each of the top three seeds lost their first game -- including UW-Green Bay (the No. 3 seed). Milwaukee struggled mightily at times in the first year under new coach LaVall Jordan, but its late-season surge is promising for what's ahead. And the Panthers certainly gave the fourth-seeded Norse everything they could handle in a 59-53 final.
Tourney trip: First ever. Tourney record: 0-0. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Drew McDonald (16.4). Best name: Lavone Holland II
(1) GONZAGA – Polish heritage. Gonzaga is led by 7-foot-1 senior sensation Przemek Karnowski, who will be one of the darlings of the NCAA Tournament if Gonzaga can finally break through to the Final Four. Karnowski hails from Torun, Poland – and the state of Wisconsin, obviously, has its share of Polish heritage. Wisconsin has an unincorporated town called Torun in Portage County, and that’s not a coincidence – the St. Mary’s Torun Catholic Church in Portage County draws its history to the late 1800s, where immigrants from Torun, Poland first erected the church. Moreover, with 487,726 Wisconsinites claiming Polish ancestry, the Badger State’s Polish population percentage of 9.3 is the highest in the nation.
Tourney trip: 20th (19 straight years). Tourney record: 24-19. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Nigel Williams Goss (16.9). Best name: Przemek Karnowski
(16) SOUTH DAKOTA STATE – The Pride of Thomas More. The big connection is coach TJ Otzelberger, a St. Thomas More graduate who was a three-year starter at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He also coached high-school hoops in the state at Burlington Catholic Central before beginning his college coaching career. Chris Howell, a Milwaukee King product, sat out all of the 2015-16 season at Butler Community College with injury and arrived this season at SDSU with sophomore standing, where he averages 7.5 points per game. Sophomore Tevin King averaged 16 points two years ago with the St. John's Northwestern post-graduate program in Delafield. Wauwatosa West senior Alou Dillon and Hortonville senior Ryan Krueger are headed to SDSU next year, and assistant coach Ben Walker was a standout at Oak Creek. Another assistant, Eric Henderson, coached at Burlington Catholic Central.
Tourney trip: 4th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 0-3. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Mike Daum (25.3). Best name: Skyler Flatten
(8) NORTHWESTERN – Assistant coach Pat Baldwin. Northwestern’s top assistant coach Pat Baldwin, himself an NU graduate, served on the coaching staff at UW-Green Bay for two years in the early 2000s, then spent seven seasons at Loyola of Chicago, eventually elevating to title of associate head coach in 2010-11. He worked closely with Whitefish Bay Dominican product J.R. Blount, who became one of only five players in school history to accumulate 1,500 points and 300 assists. Major League Baseball pitcher J.A. Happ, cousin to Wisconsin big man Ethan Happ, attended Northwestern.
Tourney trip: First ever. Tourney record: 0-0. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Bryan McIntosh (14.6). Best name: Gavin Skelly
(9) VANDERBILT –Riley LaChance. The Brookfield Central product was part of a team that ranked among the best in the state his senior year three years ago, snapping Germantown’s state-record 69-game winning streak. He made the All-Freshman two years ago and, after struggling last year, is back helping the Commodores to the NCAA Tournament, boasting a scintillating 49 percent from 3-point range. He had a huge showing in his team's SEC Tournament win over Florida and averages 10.4 points per game.
Tourney trip: 15th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 10-15. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2012 first round, 60-57; Lost to Marquette in 1974 Sweet 16, 69-61. Leading scorer: Matthew Fisher-Davis (13.8). Best name: Djery Baptiste
(5) NOTRE DAME – Arike Ogunbowale. In her sophomore season as a member of the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team, Divine Savior Holy Angels product (and former McDonald’s All-American) Arike Ogunbowale played in all 33 games and started 32, and she’s the team’s second-leading scorer at 15.1 points per game. She also has 42 steals and brings in 4.3 rebounds per game, with a 45 percent shooting mark from 3-point range. Ogunbowale scored 55 points in a state semifinal against Middleton in 2015, setting a WIAA tournament record. Notre Dame is ranked second in the country by the USA Today/Coaches Poll.
Tourney trip: 36th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 37-39. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Wisconsin in 2016 Sweet 16, 61-56; Defeated UW-Milwaukee in 2003 first round, 70-69. Leading scorer: Bonzie Colson (17.1). Best name: Rex Pflueger
(12) PRINCETON – A battle in 2011. The last time the Tigers were in the Big Dance, Princeton very nearly pulled an upset as the 13th seed over Kentucky in the 2011 first round, falling when freshman Brandon Knight scored with 2 seconds left for a 59-57 escape. Knight, of course, went on to a prominent role with the Milwaukee Bucks. For the majority of that game, the defensive assignment fell to Princeton's T.J. Bray, who won Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin in 2010 as a member of Catholic Memorial. Bray only played sparingly in that game but was briefly on Knight before a defensive switch in those final moments. Knight struggled against Princeton in that game and scored only the 2 points.
Tourney trip: 25th (last in 2011) Tourney record: 13-28. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Devin Cannady (13.7). Best name: Vittorio Reynoso-Avila
(4) WEST VIRGINIA – The point guard of the future. One of the state’s top recruits in the junior class, Jordan McCabe of Kaukauna, has committed to play at West Virginia. The crafty point guard chose the Mountaineers over UW-Milwaukee, UW-Green Bay, Missouri, Minnesota and DePaul. He led the Galloping Ghosts to the WIAA Division 2 championship last year and will join local players like Tyler Herro and John Diener in an exceptional senior class next season. Diener and Cedarburg got the best of McCabe and Kaukauna in the sectional final this year.
Tourney trip: 28th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 27-27. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Jevon Carter (12.9). Best name: Sagaba Konate
(13) BUCKNELL – Mascot names. While Bucky Badger is the beloved mascot of the Wisconsin sports programs, Bucknell's Bison also goes by the name Bucky. The Bison was selected as the school's mascot as a nod to its location in the Buffalo Valley of Central Pennsylvania. Bucky Badger has a much larger profile as a charter member of the Mascot Hall of Fame (inducted in 2006). Buckingham U. Badger first appeared on the scene in 1948. Current head coach Nathan Davis took the job in 2015 from David Paulsen, now the head coach at George Mason. Paulsen graduated from Wausau East High School.
Tourney trip: 7th (first since 2013). Tourney record: 2-6. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2005 second round, 71-62. Leading scorer: Zach Thomas (16.0). Best name: Nana Foulland
(6) MARYLAND – Diamond Stone. The AP Newcomer of the Year in the Big Ten last season has fulfilled many of the expectations heaped upon him when he transitioned from winning four state titles at Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay. He was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of last year’s NBA Draft. He’s spent some time in the D-League this year but has also seen minutes with the Clippers. Stone, whose high-school career has to be among the best in state history (if not the best) raised eyebrows when he chose Maryland over the University of Wisconsin, among others, and he didn’t exactly endear himself any further to home fans when he incurred a suspension for a flagrant foul against the Badgers on Feb. 13, 2016. But he’s one of the biggest recruits the state has seen in a generation, and he made history when he and Henry Ellenson of Rice Lake were both named McDonald’s All-Americans in the same season.
Tourney trip: 27th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 41-25. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Wisconsin in 2002 second round, 87-57. Leading scorer: Melo Trimble (16.9). Best name: Damonte Dodd (and Trimble)
(11) XAVIER – Bad week for ACLs. The Milwaukee Bucks lost one of their best players to a torn ACL on Feb. 8, and Xavier knows the feeling – mere days earlier, it lost Edmond Sumner to the same ailment, also in the left knee, Jan. 29. Sumner was averaging 15 points and five assists a game as a sophomore, and his loss left Xavier perilously thin at the point guard position. Parker was averaging 20 points when he was lost for the second time in his Bucks career with the injury, one that puts his future in some doubt. Of course, many Wisconsin fans will recall that Xavier was the second-round opponent last year, when Bronson Koenig’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer sent the Badgers to the Sweet 16.
Tourney trip: 27th (4 straight years). Tourney record: 24-26. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2016 second round, 66-63; Lost to Marquette in 2011 first round, 66-55; Defeated Wisconsin in 2009 second round, 60-49. Leading scorer: Trevon Bluiett (18.1). Best name: Kaiser Gates
(3) FLORIDA STATE – Six degrees of Dwayne Bacon. The All-American candidate Dwayne Bacon leads Florida State with 16.6 points per game. In the spirit of the popular Kevin Bacon “six degrees of separation” experiment (and the theme of this overall project), we present Six Degrees of Dwayne Bacon:
1. Dwayne Bacon played at Oak Hill Academy with teammate Josh Reaves, now a sophomore for Penn State's basketball team.
2. Reaves currently plays for Penn State fifth-year coach Ed Chambers.
3. Chambers, before he coached at Penn State, was an assistant at Villanova under coach Jay Wright.
4. Wright, whose team won the national championship last year, has coached a number of NBA players, including the No. 7 overall selection in the 2006 NBA Draft, Randy Foye.
5. Foye was traded in 2016 to the Oklahoma City Thunder from Denver, in exchange for DJ Augustin and Steve Novak, among other considerations.
6. Novak, a graduate of Brown Deer High School, is an NBA free agent most recently playing for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Tourney trip: 15th (last in 2012). Tourney record: 15-14. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2009 first round, 61-59. Leading scorer: Dwayne Bacon (16.9). Best name: Christ Koumadje
(14) FLORIDA GULF COAST – Wisconsin girls pipeline. The men's team got to the dance by winning its tournament, but the Florida Gulf Coast women's team set itself up to get to its own Big Dance with or without an Atlantic Sun Tournament title, and Wisconsin players have played a big role in that. Cudahy's Taylor Gradinjan has started every game and scores 10.1 points per game, and Muskego's Jessica Cattani also sees the floor regularly. Milton's Morgan Blumer was with the program last year, and former assistant coach Nicki (Taggart) Collen is a former Platteville High School and Marquette University player (now coaching in the WNBA). She still holds two of the top three single-season assist totals in Marquette history.
Tourney trip: 3rd (last in 2013). Tourney record: 2-2. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Brandon Goodwin (18.2). Best name: Rendijs Feikners
(7) ST. MARY’S –This is not Detroit, man, this is the Super Bowl. Among the alumni from the California-based university are NFL referee Pete Morelli, who oversaw perhaps the greatest moment of schadenfreude in Wisconsin sports fan history. He was head referee in the 2010 NFC Championship game featuring the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, when former Packers iconic quarterback Brett Favre threw a late interception that short-circuited Minnesota’s chances of getting to the Super Bowl (leading to the much-beloved Paul Allen call on Minnesota radio). Mike Pereira, now with Fox but then the NFL Supervisor of Officials, admitted a penalty flag should have been thrown on a Saints hit against Favre that led to an earlier interception. It became one of many examples of the famous Saints “Bountygate” scandal.
Tourney trip: 8th (last in 2013). Tourney record: 4-8. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Jock Landale (16.8). Best name: Emmett Naar
(10) VCU – Mo Goes Pro? Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson is known for drafting players out of position. Defensive back Quinten Rollins, for example, played basketball at Miami University (Oho) and only played football his final year at the school, in 2014. Perhaps VCU imposing presence Mo Alie-Cox is headed for a similar fate? Like many players before him, such as Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates or recent Packers defensive lineman Julius Peppers, he’s earning a scholarship to play basketball but has some NFL prospects, thanks to his 6-7, 250-pound frame. Perhaps he’s a future Packer? For now, he’s leading the Commodores with 70 blocks and is the catalyst for the “Mo Says No” chant at home games thanks to his defensive ability.
Tourney trip: 16th (7 straight years). Tourney record: 13-15. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: JeQuan Lewis (14.7). Best name: Mo Alie-Cox
(2) ARIZONA – Sean Miller’s origins. One of the perennial story lines in the NCAA Tournament is the focus on a coach who has never been to the Final Four despite a successful resume. For the past few years, it’s been Miller, who’s quest was thwarted twice by Wisconsin in the Elite 8 in 2014 and 2015. Miller’s coaching career actually began in Wisconsin, where he was a graduate assistant for the 1992-93 Badgers team that featured Michael Finley in his sophomore year, Tracy Webster as a junior and sophomore Howard Moore, now an assistant coach for the Badgers.
Tourney trip: 34th (5 straight years). Tourney record: 54-32. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2015 Elite 8, 85-78; Lost to Wisconsin in 2014 Elite 8, 64-63; Defeated Wisconsin in 2006 first round, 94-75; Lost to Wisconsin in 2000 second round, 66-59. Leading scorer: Allonzo Trier (17.3) Best name: Dusan Ristic
(15) NORTH DAKOTA – The walk-on who stayed home North Dakota has seen its share of Wisconsinites filter through the football program (there were nine on the roster in 2016), but perhaps the most famous is the player who never made it to Grand Forks. Joe Schobert, now in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns after a decorated career at Wisconsin, was set to walk on after his career at Waukesha West High School. But as the canonical story goes, coaches at the WFCA All-Star Game in the summer felt he was slipping through the cracks and was too good for Wisconsin to pass him up, so they encouraged Badgers coaches to take another look. Schobert, who was literally days away from departing for college, joined the Badgers as a walk-on and the rest is history
Tourney trip: First ever. Tourney record: 0-0. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never. Leading scorer: Quinton Hooker (18.8). Best name: Carson Shanks
Sconnies at the Dance
(8) Wisconsin vs. (9) Virginia Tech, 9:10 p.m. March 16
(7) South Carolina vs. (10) Marquette, 9:50 p.m. March 17
(5) Iowa State vs. (12) Nevada, 9:50 p.m. March 16
(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) South Dakota State, 2 p.m. March 16
Others (10): Kostas Antetokounmpo (Dominican), Dayton; Austin Arians (Madison Edgewood), Wake Forest; David Burrell (Milwaukee Hamilton), East Tennessee State; Jarvis Garrett (West Allis Central), Rhode Island; Garrison Goode (Dominican), UC-Davis; Toby Hegner (Berlin), Creighton; Demontrae Jefferson (Milwaukee native), Texas Southern; Riley LaChance (Brookfield Central), Vanderbilt; Cam Ward (Marshall), Vermont; Darral Willis, Jr. (Madison Memorial), Wichita State
(11) Wake Forest vs. (11) Kansas State, 9:10 p.m. March 14
(4) Florida vs. (13) East Tennessee State, 3:10 p.m. March 16
(8) Northwestern vs. (9) Vanderbilt, 4:30 p.m. March 16
(4) Purdue vs. (13) Vermont, 7:30 p.m. March 16
(1) North Carolina vs. (16) Texas Southern, 4 p.m. March 17
(6) Creighton vs. (11) Rhode Island, 4:30 p.m. March 17
(7) Dayton vs. (10) Wichita State, 7:10 p.m. March 17
UW-Green Bay (14): Jen Wellnitz (Black Hawk);Frankie Wurtz (Kimberly);Caitlyn Hibner (Portage);Laken James (Oconto); Mehryn Kraker (West Allis Central); Meghan Pingel (Lakeside Lutheran);Jessica Lindstrom (Superior);Allie LeClaire (Green Bay Notre Dame);Karly Murphy (River Falls); Lexi Weitzer (Waukesha South); Mackenzie Wolf (Sheboygan North);Anna Dier (Algoma);Madison Wolf (Sheboygan North);Sam Terry (Baraboo)
(8) UW-Green Bay vs. (9) Purdue, 5 p.m. March 17
(5) Marquette vs (12) Quinnipiac, 1:30 p.m. March 18
(3) Florida State vs. (14) Western Illinois, 7:30 p.m. March 17
(7) Kansas State vs. (10) Drake, 4 p.m. March 18
(4) Miami vs. (13) Florida Gulf Coast, 4 p.m. March 18
(4) Kentucky vs. (13) Belmont, 3 p.m. March 17
Others (5): Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels), Notre Dame; Jaden Ward (Wisconsin Dells), Quinnipiac; Abby Gerrits (Pewaukee), Northern Iowa; Gabbi Ortiz (Racine Prairie), Oklahoma; Heather Bowe (Eau Claire Regis), Iowa State
(7) DePaul vs. (10) Northern Iowa, 12 p.m. March 17
(1) Notre Dame vs. (16) Robert Morris, 7:30 p.m. March 17
(8) Syracuse vs. (9) Iowa State, 1:30 p.m. March 18
(6) Oklahoma vs. (11) Gonzaga, 6:30 p.m. March 18