The University of Wisconsin and Bucknell University men's basketball teams were far from nervous Saturday, a day after their first-round NCAA Tournament wins and a day before their second-round tourney showdown.
In fact, one could characterize the mood as giddy, with plenty of wide grins and locker rooms full of jovial laughter. That anxious, excitable energy, however, will morph into a serious competitive fire by 3:50 p.m. Sunday, when the two teams tip-off for a shot at a berth in a Syracuse Regional Semifinal.
"This time of year is so emotional because if you lose you see the sad faces," UW forward Alando Tucker said.
"At the end of the game if you are on the winning side," Tucker said, "you can pretty much enjoy that inside, just knowing that you prepare to play another game."
If the 14th seeded Bison, the Patriot League conference champion, was simply happy to make the tournament, they did not show it Friday, when they surprised No. 3 seed Kansas. If they were happy just to beat the Jayhawks, they did not show it Saturday, on the eve of their matchup with UW.
"We packed to be here the whole weekend," Bison guard Kevin Bettencourt said. "We expected to win that game [Friday]."
"This is our next challenge," Bucknell coach Pat Flannery said. "We have an opportunity [Sunday] to go to 16."
Wisconsin, for its part, feels that Friday was far from a fluke.
"I can see now how they could go into Pitt and beat Pitt," UW assistant coach Gary Close said, referring to a 69-66 BU victory Jan. 2, which snapped Pittsburgh's 48-game non-conference home winning streak. "They are talented, well coached, disciplined, take care of the ball.
"I think they outplayed Kansas. I don't think it's a case of Kansas not playing well or not being ready. I think it was just Bucknell was a better team."
"Bucknell played a great game [Friday] night and we're expecting the effort they gave or a better one," UW forward Mike Wilkinson said. "We're expecting them to give maximum effort and we're not going to be anything different. We're going to give it all that we have because if you lose you're done."