All it took was ten little words to change the atmosphere among the Wisconsin contingent, "The number two seed in the Midwest – the Wisconsin Badgers."
Although paired against the overall No.1 seed Florida Gators, Wisconsin gets rewarded by playing close to home next Friday and Sunday in the same building they've just spent the past four days.
"To earn that type of seed and be put in that position is a nice reward for the season they've had," Ryan said. "Rough game today, but overall, the season is rewarded with a number two seed in the Midwest."
"You can't ask for a better situation if we aren't a number one seed," Tucker added. "We are not complaining. We're happy to be playing again as a number two seed in a place that we just played in."
Wisconsin opponent will be the No.15 seed Islanders of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, who beat Northwestern State 81-78 Sunday afternoon to win the Southland Conference. The Southland Championship gives the Islanders (26-6) their first-ever birth in the NCAA tournament and a date with the Badgers in Chicago.
"I have heard of Texas A&M and when they said Texas A&M, I thought that was going to be a tough match up," Tucker said. "But then they said Corpus Christi and I was like "Oh OK.' I am not even going to try and say the name anymore. I know that we are going to have a lot of film and we'll be watching a lot of film back on campus to get prepared for these guys."
No matter whether they play the Islanders or the Aggies, Wisconsin are going to be the clear crowd favorite when they take the floor on Friday. Wisconsin fans were the clear majority throughout the entire weekend. Even when the Badgers played the home state Illini, the Wisconsin cardinal and white were clearly more boisterous than the Illini orange.
"Our fans are pretty strong, know how to enjoy themselves and cheer for their favorite team," Ryan said. "I hope we're their favorite team right now and they keep cheering us and helping us."
Only being about 150 miles south from Madison is another added bonus for Ryan's crew, as the Badgers will avoid the hustle and bustle of the airport and provide an easy means of travel for the Wisconsin players and their families.
"We're close and the families get to see them play," Ryan said. "My wife is from Chicago so our family is here, so it's awfully nice on my end. Parents don't have to get on airplanes and go places yet. Hopefully, they'll have to [eventually], but right now, we're close to home."
Now the game plan for the Badgers is rest, rest and rest. Commenting that the Big Ten Tournament is the toughest stretch in the entire season, Ryan will give the players tomorrow off and, hopefully, get the Badgers ready to go on a six-game winning streak.
"It's been a grind these past three days, we won two out of three and there's a song that says that's not bad … although I can't remember who sang that," Ryan said. "We'll recharge physically, give them time to rest and get ready to go."