Badgers Make NCAAs After Slow Start In Big Ten

The University of Wisconsin mens’ basketball team has made it to Albuquerque to start preparing for their battle with Montana Thursday in the first round of the NCAA basketballl tournament.

Wisconsin took the coach bus straight to Sandia Prep School to get a workout in, before giving themselves time to study Montana.

When they look at the Grizzlies, Jordan Taylor said they see a little bit of themselves.

“They present a lot of different challenges defensively,” said Taylor.” They are pretty good, especially on the perimeter. They got bigs that can shoot it, similar to our bigs, so they can stretch the floor and put it on the floor, as well.”

“They change up their defenses a little bit,” said sophomore guard Josh Gasser.” All five guys on the floor can shoot the ball, so it’s going to be a tough game, but we should be alright.”

The University of Wisconsin’s 14th straight NCAA tournament appearance didn’t look likely two months ago.

The Badgers began the season 1-3 in the Big Ten, including a pair of rare home losses. When they weren’t hitting 3-pointers, the Badgers were a surprisingly easy out.

But their season turned around beginning with a Jan. 12 victory at Purdue, and Wisconsin finished the season strong enough to secure a No. 4 seed in the East region. They play No. 13 seed Montana on Thursday afternoon.

Forward Jared Berggren said the Badgers’ ability to battle back from a slow start to conference play doesn’t matter now, saying, “It’s do or die now.”

If you’re looking to somehow justify picking Wisconsin to go to the Final Four in your office pool, keep this in mind. In 2000, Albuquerque is where the Badgers won the west regional and advanced to the Final Four. The current Badgers were in grade school then, but will take any luck on their side.

“It’s definitely good karma,” said Taylor. “Hopefully we can carry that into this tournament.”

“I remember they beat Purdue and LSU, or something like that,” said Gasser. “Hopefully we can continue that streak. Like Jordan says, it’s good karma, I guess.”

Fans lined the streets in Missoula as Montana left campus in Missoula Tuesday morning. UW and Montana will play Thursday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. Madison time.