INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—Less than an hour after winning its first ever Big Ten Tournament Championship, Wisconsin was named the No. 6 seed in the East Rutherford Regional Sunday evening.
The Badgers (24-6) will play No. 11 Richmond (20-12) at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee Friday at 6:20 p.m. CST. If the Wisconsin wins its first-round game, they will play again Sunday versus the winner of the matchup between No. 3 Pittsburgh (29-4) and No. 14 Central Florida (25-5).
Wisconsin was expected to receive a higher seed by many prognosticators, but will benefit from effectively playing home games at the Bradley Center.
"I'm a person who never takes anything for granted," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "You kind of hope the players are just thinking of what's between the lines. The people that I'm happiest for, because we have so many players close, is the families that get a chance to go to the games. This is what they told me that the pod system was about. That if you have a pretty good year you could get to be fairly close to home."
"It is a great feeling, we'll obviously have a home court advantage in Milwaukee," Owens said.
"It is a great feeling for me to get back home to play with the crowd that we are going to bring to the Bradley Center," Wade said. "I think it is going to be a big advantage for us."
Ryan empathized with the NCAA selection committee regarding his team's lower-than-expected seed.
"I plead ignorance because I am happy for the team," he said. "They took care of business during the regular season and now in the conference championship game and the conference tournament. I look at teams as a coach and I can't see the difference between three through eight [seeds] to be honest with you. I wouldn't want to be in that room. I wouldn't want to make those decisions. So for me to make a comment one way or the other other than ‘let's lace ‘em up, let's play'—that's the way it played out. There are 65 teams that are really happy to have a chance. We're one of them and I'm pretty excited about it."
It was a more or less unified message from the Badgers.
"Seeding in this tournament, every team is so even, it is hard to determine between all the top seeds," junior forward Mike Wilkinson said.
"I was very surprised," Wade said. "I thought we would be a little higher but I would rather be a six seed and be right at the house."
Richmond is led by sophomore forward Mike Skrocki, who averages 16.1 points per game and senior guard Tony Dobbins, who tallies 11.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per outing. The Spiders finished tied for third in the Atlantic 10 Conference's West Division. St. Joseph's (27-1), the No. 1 seed in the East Rutherford Regional, finished in first place in the A-10 East this season.
"I do know a little bit (about Richmond) but sometimes a little bit of knowledge is dangerous so I'll wait until whenever they have me doing a press conference back in Madison," Ryan said. "After I get my thoughts collected."
Only two other Big Ten teams reached the NCAA Tournament. Illinois (24-6) is a No. 5 seed and will play No. 12 Murray State (28-5) in the Atlanta Regional in Columbus, Ohio Friday. Michigan State (18-11) drew a No. 7 seed in the St. Louis Regional and will play No. 10 Nevada (23-8) in Seattle, Wash. Thursday.
Devin Harris leads Badgers to title
Wisconsin men's basketball notes
Photo gallery 1
Photo gallery 2
Wisconsin a No. 6 seed
Harris named tourney's Most Outstanding Player
Wisconsin 70, Illinois 53 (line score)
Complete Coverage: semifinal win over Michigan State
Complete Coverage: quarterfinal win over Minnesota
Big Ten Tournament first round coverage
NCAA Tournament bracket
Big Ten Tournament bracket