Like 15 other teams on Thursday, the Wisconsin Badgers have begun the journey to San Antonio.
Senior Brian Butch scored 14 points and Joe Krabbenhoft tied a career high with 13 points as third-seeded Wisconsin used its height advantage to get the better of No.14 seed Cal State Fullerton, using multiple scoring runs to distance itself from the Titans, winning 71-56 Thursday night.
The Badgers (30-4) will face No.11 seed Kansas State (21-11) on Saturday, as the Wildcats dominated Southern California in the second half and won 80-67 Thursday evening.
Butch scored 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting and Krabbenhoft went 5-of-7, including draining his only three pointer, but where the two post players shined was on the boards (Butch grabbed eight and Krabbenhoft grabbed nine).
Also in the point production mix was Jason Bohannon, who scored 12 points on only 2-of-7 shooting and 1-for-5 from the perimeter, but went a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Wisconsin started Thursday night's game 2-for-8 but was able to bounce back off the offensive created by the Badgers' offensive rebounds. With the Titans having no player towering above 6-foot-5, Wisconsin grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes, second-chance points that helped UW turn a 19-10 deficit into a 28-20 advantage over an eight-minute stretch for the Badgers first lead of the night.
Fullerton (24-9) did not cave, however, holding Wisconsin scoreless for three and a half minutes and returned fire with an 8-0 of its own, cutting UW's lead to 30-28 at the break.
Fullerton looked to continue its first-half momentum in the second half, taking its first lead since early in the first half by scoring the first three points of the second half.
From there, the Badgers took over.
Wisconsin went on a 15-3 run that was engineered by the Badgers being able to give penetration into the line. Michael Flowers dribble drive into the lane, incorporated a spin move and got a three-point play, Greg Stiemsma was wide open for a jumper when Trevon Hughes drew the extra defender in the lane and Joe Krabbenhoft got an easy layup when Jason Bohannon drew Krabbenhoft's defender out to the perimeter.
In the end, Wisconsin's lead ballooned up to 14 points when it mattered most, the final minute of the game.
Wisconsin also showed the Big West champ the kind of defense the Big Ten champions possess. Scoring 82.7 points during the regular season (third best among tournament teams), the Titans only managed 56 points, the fewest they have scored all season long, and shot only 38 percent from the floor.
It's hard to think where the Titans would have been without junior Josh Akognon. Averaging 19.9 points entering the game, Akognon scored a game-high 31 points, shooting 11-of-21 and made five of his 11 three-point attempts, scoring 55 percent of his team's points.