Wisconsin Headed to Omaha

Just 45 minutes after cutting down the nets in Indianapolis, No.8 Wisconsin earns a three seed in the Midwest Regional and will head to Omaha to face off against Cal-State Fullerton, a spot that not all Badgers are pleased about.

INDIANAPOLIS – Before Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan grasps the reigns of the Badger basketball program in summer 2001, Wisconsin had been to a total of seven NCAA Tournaments since its inception in 1939.

In his seventh season at the helm, Ryan has equaled that mark.

After earning a program-best number two seed last season with a 29-5 record, Wisconsin, with an entirely different team makeup and, equaled that mark with a 29-4 record and earning the three seed in the Midwest Region and will open the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Omaha, Nebraska.

It was an accomplishment that few people outside of the UW locker room thought was feasible. A team without a true offensive identity at the beginning, Wisconsin bought into the team concept of relentless defense and unselfishness to win its third conference championship in seven seasons and two tournament championship, the latter coming Sunday with a 61-48 victory over Illinois.

"Their actions speak louder than any words can describe," Ryan said.

But one of the themes throughout the locker room was that it was back to business Monday morning, as the Badgers first round opponent will be Cal-State Fullerton from the Big West conference. The Titans (24-8), making their first appearance in the national tournament in 20 years, earned the conference's automatic bid and have won 10 of 11 games.

The other theme was that the Badgers have once again felt that they have been disrespected by the national media and now, the selection committee to only get a three seed, especially after sweeping every conference championship in 2008.

"We got screwed," sophomore Trevon Hughes blatantly said. "We deserved a two seed because we played our heart out all season. That's all right. We're going to get in done. We're going to play it us against the world and show them how good we play as a team and how well we deserve a two seed."

Although he wouldn't verbally admit, senior Brian Butch was not completely sold on being a three seed.

"You just play who they put out in front of you," he said with a smile. "I thought we did a great job of putting our resume out there. 29-4 and doing the things we've done, winning the way we've won and beating the teams we've beat. I thought we did a pretty good job and it is up to the committee to put us where they did. We've been doing it all year."

Should Wisconsin survive, the Badgers will face the winner of USC and Kansas State for the right to go to the Midwest Regional being played in Detroit.

"It's a pretty tough bracket," Butch said. "You said it right there. We've had some tough games this year already, too. Going into Indiana and beating Indiana in Assembly Hall, beating Texas at Texas. For us, we just have to worry about us."

Regardless of seeds, regions or opponents, Wisconsin has done everything possible to prepare for this NCAA Tournament. With last year's second-round loss still leaving somewhat of a sour taste in some veteran player's mouth, the Badgers have set their sites on the school's second Final Four appearance this decade and proving their doubters wrong once again.

"It's something you think about as a competitor," senior Tanner Bronson said. "We got beat last year and I think this team is going to take that inspiration in preparing for each and every game that this next game could be your last."

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