NCAA First Round Opponent: Weber State

The Badgers will face off against a familiar opponent in Spokane, Was. Thursday, taking on Weber State in a rematch from an early-season game in Hawaii last year.

The UW men's basketball team is already busy preparing for its first round opponent in the 2003 NCAA Tournament - Weber State.

Weber State is a familiar foe for Wisconsin, having lost to the Wildcats early last season during a road trip to Hawaii.

The Wildcats (26-5) are the Big Sky champions and will certainly be no pushover. Weber State won its conference tournament in a thrilling 60-57 victory over Eastern Washington, a team Wisconsin defeated earlier this year.

Weber State hasn't lost since Jan. 3, putting together a 17-game winning streak to close the season.

Coach Bo Ryan watched the Big Sky title game live on ESPN, and said the player that stuck out in his mind was senior guard Jermaine Boyette.

Boyette, the Most Valuable Player in the Big Sky Conference, should be the most difficult player for the Badgers to contain. He led the conference with 20.1 points per game, and was just the 16th player in the history of the league to be named to the All-Big Sky Team three times.

The game will pit arguably two of the most underrated coaches in the nation in back-to-back Big Ten Coach of the Year Bo Ryan and Joe Cravens, the NABC District 13 Coach of the Year and's Mid-Major Coach of the Year.

Weber State made big waves in the NCAA Tournament in 1999, stunning the nation with an upset over North Carolina.

Should the Badgers advance, they will take on the winner of the Dayton-Tulsa game Saturday in Spokane. And if Wisconsin is fortunate enough to survive the weekend, it will play just four hours from Madison in Minneapolis, Minn.

While that certainly sounds like great news, the flip side is the Badgers' Sweet 16 opponent would likely be No. 1 Kentucky.

Game times are expected to be announced Monday. The Badgers will practice at the Kohl Center in Madison tomorrow and Tuesday, and will have a practice open to the public in Spokane Wednesday afternoon.

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