68 Degrees of Separation
Finding a Wisconsin tie to every team in the Big Dance
By JR Radcliffe and Dan Polley
68 Degrees of Separation is a special project finding Wisconsin ties -- as improbable or as much of a stretch as they may be -- to each team in the 2016 NCAA men's basketball tournament.
The NCAA Tournament begins March 15 and 17, and every team has a story -- and a Wisconsin connection. Here's your Sconnie viewers guide to the Big Dance.
Navigation tip: Use the main school name, not "University." For example, "Wisconsin" would be under "W," not "U" for University of Wisconsin.
ARIZONA – Elite 8 company. The Wildcats must be relieved to not see Wisconsin in the same regional. Each of the past two years, Arizona has reached the Elite 8, and both times, Wisconsin teams have stood in the way, including last year when Sam Dekker recorded a career-high 27 points in an 85-78 win in Los Angeles. One year earlier in Anaheim, Frank Kaminsky finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Arizona’s last shot in overtime went for naught in a 64-63 win that got the Badgers to the Final Four for the first time since 2000. Current Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerryd Bayless also hails from Arizona, and current assistant coach Mark Phelps spent last year on Steve Wojciechowski’s staff at Marquette.
Tourney trip: 33rd (4 straight years). Tourney record: 54-31. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2015 Elite 8, 85-78; Lost to Wisconsin in 2014 Elite 8, 64-63; Defeated Wisconsin in 2006 first round, 94-75; Lost to Wisconsin in 2000 second round, 66-59.
AUSTIN PEAY – Catcher AJ Ellis. The 34-year-old backstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers lives in the Milwaukee area with his wife, Cindy, who is from the area (and a former two-sport athlete at Austin Peay herself). His alma mater last won the Ohio Valley Conference in 2008 – the year Ellis broke into the big leagues. He’s a .241 hitter and owns a .345 on-base percentage in his career, entirely with the Dodgers, but he’s also been the receiver for one of the greatest pitchers of our generation, Clayton Kershaw, who won Cy Young Awards in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Perhaps the best Ellis story is that his wife, Cindy, gave birth to the couple’s third child, daughter Audrey, in the car while he was speeding on a Wisconsin highway toward the hospital. One of Elli's roommates at Austin Peay, current Missouri assistant coach Brad Loos, has a daughter who has been the subject of the RallyForRhyan campaign as she battles neuroblastoma. Another former roommate, Chad Kimmel, is assistant athletic director for development at the University of Wisconsin.
Tourney trip: 6th (last in 2003). Tourney record: 2-7. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 1973 regional third-place game, 88-73.
BAYLOR – Black bears. Baylor’s mascot is the American Black Bear, with Bruiser the name given to the costumed creature. Baylor is also home to two actual black bears, Joy and Lady, though rules keep them from attending sporting events on a regular basis. Wisconsin’s black bear population has blossomed in the past 20 years to anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000 bears according to the DNR, and hunting permits for black bears in the state have increased as a result.
Tourney trip: 10th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 11-11. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2014 Sweet 16, 69-52.
BUFFALO – Lamonte Bearden. The Germantown product was the team’s leading scorer as a sophomore at 13.6 points per game, and he also leads the team with 122 assists. He had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the MAC championship win over Akron, which marked the program’s fourth straight win, and three straight against teams that had beaten Buffalo in the regular season. Bearden was a key part of Germantown state championships in 2013 and 2014, tying for game-high honors in scoring with 13 points off the bench in a win over Neenah as a senior in the Division 1 title game.
Tourney trip: 2nd (2 straight years). Tourney record: 0-1. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never
BUTLER – Belvedere, it’s your fault. One of the most famous butlers in pop culture is Lynn Belvedere, the title character of the popular sitcom “Mr. Belvedere” that ran from 1985-1990. Belvedere is hired to care for the children of the Owens family, a household headed by George Owens, played by Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster and local baseball icon Bob Uecker. The character on the show moves from sportswriting to sports broadcasting, mirroring Uecker’s own career as he balanced his gig with the Brewers and the TV show. Uecker has spent more than 50 years in baseball in some capacity and began calling Brewers games in 1971, shortly after the franchise moved to Milwaukee. Perhaps more directly related: University of Wisconsin band director Michael Leckrone, who has held his position since 1969, graduated from Butler. Pictured: Bob Uecker (left) and Christopher Hewitt in "Mr. Belvedere." Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 14th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 20-13. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 2013 second round, 74-72; Defeated Wisconsin in 2011 Sweet 16, 61-54.
CALIFORNIA – Tracy Webster. The former University of Wisconsin standout has been associate head coach at Cal since 2004, and he’s made stops at a number of high-profile universities since beginning his coaching career at UW-Parkside in 1998. He was a three-year standout for the Badgers from 1992-94, racking up 1,264 points and a school-record 501 assists. He also owns the career record for 3-point percentage at the school (.490) and is among the all-time leaders in steals. Of course, Cal is also the former stomping ground of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose classification by some as a system quarterback under Cal coach Jeff Tedford precipitated one of the most important falls in NFL Draft history, when he was taken 24th in the 2005 NFL Draft by Green Bay in the final stretch of the Brett Favre era.
Tourney trip: 19th (last in 2013). Tourney record: 20-18. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to UW-Green Bay in 1994 first round, 61-57.
CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD – Kevin Mays and PJ Posey. Mays played his prep days at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, where was named first-team All Conference three times in the Midwest Classic, most recently as a senior in 2011. As a senior this year at Bakersfield, he averages 12.5 points per game, second on the team, and also brings in a team-best 8.0 rebounds. He started his career at Maryland Eastern Shore and moved to Odessa College as a sophomore before starting 32 games last year for the Roadrunners. He finished in the top 40 in Division 1 in offensive rebounds per game. The Milwaukee Riverside graduate Posey spent his last two seasons at Sheridan Junior College in Wyoming. Prior to that, he averaged 9.6 points per game for Riverside and was named second-team All Conference in the Milwaukee City. He’s seen the floor in five games this season for the Roadrunners, averaging 1.6 points per game. Pictured: Mays (center). Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: First. Tourney record: 0-0. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
CHATTANOOGA – History’s battle cry. Most Wisconsinites are familiar with the school song of the University of Wisconsin (and state song), “On, Wisconsin.” The words “On, Wisconsin” were the battle cry for Arthur MacArthur, Jr. in the Battle of Chattanooga at Missionary Ridge during the Civil War. MacArthur, then 18 and a Wisconsin resident, was the son of a man who briefly held the role of governor in Wisconsin. When he seized and planted the regimental flag, he inspired the troops in a moment that netted him the Medal of Honor and also landed him the title of colonel the next year, making him “The Boy Colonel.” MacArthur, Jr. died at age 67 in Milwaukee, but his son, Douglas MacArthur, became a five-star general and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army in the 1930s.
Tourney trip: 11th (last in 2009). Tourney record: 3-10. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
CINCINNATI – The Big O. University of Cincinnati alumnus Oscar Robertson had spent nearly a decade in the National Basketball Association playing for his hometown Cincinnati Royals when they shockingly traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1970, potentially because of a dispute with coach Bob Cousy. Robertson was paired with young Bucks phenom Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, and in 1971, he and the Bucks won their only NBA Championship. The Bucks went 66-16 that season, including a then-record 20-game winning streak. It has since been surpassed slightly. Robertson, who coached the Bearcats on an interim basis when coach Bob Huggins was suspended in 2004, averaged more than 19 points and 8 assists per game in that championship season. He’s considered one of the greatest NBA players in history.
Tourney trip: 30th (6 straight years). Tourney record: 44-28. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 1994 first round, 80-72; Lost to Marquette in 1977 first round, 66-51.
COLORADO – Here's the kicker. Mason Crosby has enjoyed immense success in his nine years as kicker for the Green Bay Packers, and he was rewarded this offseason with a four-year, $16 million contract. At Colorado, Crosby was three times named first-team All Conference in the Big 12, and the he was a unanimous All American after his junior season. With 308 career points, he became the program’s all-time leading scorer. Packers offensive lineman David Bakhtiari also attended Colorado, as did former Packers linebacker Brad Jones. Current Colorado assistant hoops coach Jean Prioleau has been with the Buffaloes six years, but he also spent the 2005-06 season as an assistant under Tom Crean at Marquette, helping oversee a team that went 20-11 overall. He was on the bench when Steve Novak went off for 41 points and 16 rebounds in a 94-79 win over No. 2-ranked Connecticut at the Bradley Center. Pictured: Mason Crosby (right). Photo by Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Tourney trip: 14th (last in 2014). Tourney record: 10-15. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
CONNECTICUT – Phillip Nolan. The product of Milwaukee Riverside had an interesting high-school career, spending his junior season at St. Benedict’s in New Jersey before returning home and playing half of his final season at Riverside, where he averaged 16.7 points and 9.4 rebounds. Riverside lost to eventual state finalist Milwaukee King that year in the regional. Nolan was part of the National Championship Huskies team two years ago, and this year he averages 1.9 points per game. His family was unable to make it to the recent Senior Night celebration, so his teammates stepped in for a touching gesture.
Tourney trip: 33rd (last in 2014). Tourney record: 58-29. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
DAYTON – Friend of Frank. Former walk-on Bobby Wehrli, who has seen the floor in 19 games this year for the Flyers, was a high-school teammate of former Wisconsin standout Frank Kaminsky, who was the centerpiece of the Badgers’ back-to-back Final Four appearances. Wehrli averaged 8.6 points and 7.1 rebounds as a senior at Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois, and the 2010-11 team went 32-1 and had the No. 1 ranking in the state. Kaminsky, meanwhile averaged 14.2 points and 8.7 rebounds for that team, and he was named first-team All State. Four years later, he was the National Player of the Year at Wisconsin after leading the Badgers to consecutive Final Fours.
Tourney trip: 17th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 19-18. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
DUKE – Amber Henson. It must be fairly awkward in the Henson household that one sibling (Milwaukee Bucks big man John Henson) attended North Carolina and his sister played basketball for rival Duke. Amber Henson has started 16 of 20 games for the Blue Devils this year (as of March 4), scoring 4.6 points and bringing in 5.1 rebounds per contest. That the fifth-year senior is able to contribute is something special all by itself since she’s undergone six knee surgeries, keeping her from the court her first two years at Duke. John, meanwhile, signed a four-year extension to remain in Milwaukee before the current season. He was the Bucks’ first-round pick (No. 14 overall) in 2012.
Tourney trip: 40th (21 straight years). Tourney record: 105-34. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Wisconsin in 2015 National Championship Game, 68-63; Defeated Marquette in 1994 Sweet 16, 59-49.
FAIRLEIGH-DICKINSON – Kindred keglers. Fairleigh Dickinson may not always make the men's basketball touranment, but the women's bowling team has built an empire at the small New Jersey school, with national titles in 2006 and 2010 and regular visits to the Final Four -- eight since the program began in 2004. Bowling has a rich history in Milwaukee, which was essentially stamped the nation's Tenpin Capital in 1905 when the American Bowling Congress Tournament moved to the city. The United States Bowling Congress was housed in Greendale for years before leaving for Texas in 2009, and signs of the declining industry have resulted in numerous bowling-center closures throughout the state (and country).
Tourney trip: 5th (last in 2005). Tourney record: 0-4. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
FLORIDA GULF COAST – Wisconsin girls pipeline. The men's team got to the dance by winning its tournament, but the Florida Gulf Coast women's team set itself up to get to its own Big Dance with or without an Atlantic Sun Tournament title, and Wisconsin players have played a big role in that. Cudahy's Taylor Gradinjan has started every game and scores 10.1 points per game, and Muskego's Jessica Cattani also sees the floor regularly. Milton's Morgan Blumer was with the program last year, and assistant coach Nicki (Taggart) Collen is a former Platteville High School and Marquette University player. She still holds two of the top three single-season assist totals in Marquette history.
Tourney trip: 2nd (last in 2013). Tourney record: 2-1. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
FRESNO STATE – Jerry Wainwright. The assistant coach has been a head coach for 16 seasons, but he was also an assistant at Marquette University under Buzz Williams, and he was on the bench in 2012-13 when the Golden Eagles made a run to the Elite 8. Wainwright actually served as an assistant at Fresno State fresh off a head-coaching gig at DePaul, then jumped to Marquette for two years before coming back to Fresno. When Wainwright was a coach at UNC-Wilmington from 1994-2002, one of his assistant coaches was Rodney Terry, the head coach today at Fresno State.
Tourney trip: 6th (last in 2001). Tourney record: 2-5. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2000 first round, 66-56.
GONZAGA – Happy 18th. With both Wisconsin and the Zags reaching the tourrnamnet – and there was definitely doubt for both at points this season – the two programs both have made the Dance in 18 consecutive seasons. In that first year of the streak, 1999, Gonzaga was making only its second ever appearance in the tourney (it had made the trip two years earlier) and got all the way to the Elite 8 when Casey Cavalry tipped in a game-winner with 4 seconds remaining in the Sweet 16 against Florida. By comparison, the 1999 season that started Wisconsin’s current run ended in a hideous 43-32 loss to Southwest Missouri State, a team coached by Steve Alford that also made it to the Sweet 16 in Cinderella fashion. It was Wisconsin’s lowest point total since 1948 and hardly the harbinger of what was to come in the 2000 Final Four run.
Tourney trip: 19th (18 straight years). Tourney record: 22-18. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
HAMPTON – Face in the Community. Quinton Chievous, the second-leading scorer for the Pirates, hails from Notre Dame Prep Academy in Niles, Illinois, a school that counts actor Danny Pudi among its alumni. Pudi, who graduated from Notre Dame Prep in 1997, went on to attend Marquette University and was the breakout star of the NBC sitcom “Community,” playing the role of Abed. The show was created and produced by Milwaukee native and Brown Deer High School graduate Dan Harmon, and it ran for five seasons. The central setting, Greendale Community College, shares a name with Milwaukee suburb Greendale.
Tourney trip: 5th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 2-4. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
HAWAII – Surf’s up north. Tom Blake, born in Milwaukee in 1902, is one of the most influential figures transforming surfing from a Hawaiian specialty into a popular sport nationwide. He experimented with better surfboards, altered their design, built a waterproof camera, wrote a book on surfing and even inspired the style of surfers’ attire with his own personal preferences. He spent his early life in far northern Wisconsin, but an encounter with legendary Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku generated a newfound love for the discipline. He largely surfed in California, but in 1936, he made a run at 4,500 feet on the waves near Waikiki, a record that still stands. It was in Hawaii that he became enamored with the design of surfboards. In 2012, the first Tom Blake Board Across the Bay Race and Festival was held on Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior near Washburn, Wis. Blake died in 1994.
Tourney trip: 5th (last in 2002). Tourney record: 0-4. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
HOLY CROSS – A river runs through it. The French translation of Holy Cross is “Saint Croix,” which is the name bestowed upon the river that borders Wisconsin to the west in the state’s northern half and separates the state from the St. Paul. Cities along the 130-mile boundary include St. Croix Falls, Osceola, Hudson, Somerset, Prescott and River Falls. A better connection, however, is assistant coach Freddie Owens, a Milwaukee Washington graduate who spent four years as a member of the Wisconsin Badgers. Owens was on two Big Ten regular-season champions and one tourney champion, and his big NCAA Tournament moment came in 2003 when his 3-pointer at the buzzer helped the Badgers survive a second-round test against Tulsa, 61-60. Wisconsin had trailed that game by 13 points with just more than 4 minutes left. Pictured: Freddie Owens celebrates his winning shot in 2003. Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 13th (last in 2007). Tourney record: 7-12. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 2003 first round, 72-68.
INDIANA – Tom Crean. The Indiana head coach is not exactly the most beloved personality in state hoops. Crean became Marquette University head coach in 1999 and ultimately led the Golden Eagles to a Final Four run in 2003, with Dwyane Wade fronting the charge. Crean left Marquette somewhat abruptly to take the Indiana position in 2008 and has turned around the program over time, even though University of Wisconsin fans never needed reason to dislike him and Marquette fans are still miffed at the way he left. Crean has been to two Sweet 16s with Indiana and had perhaps his best season yet as Indiana won the outright Big Ten title. He was named the league’s Coach of the Year. He also recruited former Germantown standout and current Marquette big man Luke Fischer, who spent his first semester at Indiana last season before transferring.
Tourney trip: 39th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 64-33. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 1976 Elite 8, 65-56; Defeated Marquette in 1973 Sweet 16, 75-69.
IONA – The Day the Music Died. One of Iona’s most famous alumni is Don McLean, who wrote one of the most recognizable songs in American history, “American Pie,” with lyrics that reflect at least partially on “the day the music died.” The reference is to a plane crash in 1959 that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, three top-of-the-line music stars of the era. The plane took off from a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, but the “Winter Dance Party” tour had played in Green Bay one night earlier and opened its tour in Milwaukee at a venue now known as The Rave/Eagles Club. Miserable, cold weather that caused repeated breakdowns to the tour’s bus on its way to a Kenosha show and the poorly-managed zig-zagging of the itinerary across the Midwest necessitated the chartering of a plane to finish out the tour.
Tourney trip: 11th (last in 2013). Tourney record: 1-10. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
IOWA – The one that got away. Jarrod Uthoff emerged as a National Player of the Year candidate for Iowa, especially early in the season, averaging 18.8 points and 6.5 rebounds for a Hawkeyes team among the top tier of teams in the country until a late-season slide. Most in Wisconsin, however, remember his public feud of sorts with Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan when Uthoff requested a transfer from the Badgers to the Hawkeyes after redshirting as a freshman in the UW program. Uthoff, the Gatorade Player of the Year in Iowa, was considered a strong recruiting catch for Ryan, but the Badgers coach didn’t want him transferring to a program that could potentially face the Badgers down the road. As it turned out, Uthoff’s Iowa teams went 0-5 against Wisconsin. Sussex Hamilton standout Brady Ellingson is also on the roster this year and has seen the floor in a number of games after redshirting last year. Pictured: Jarrod Uthoff (left). Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 25th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 28-26. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 1955 Elite 8, 86-81.
IOWA STATE – Sconnies on the roster. Few college teams outside the state boast a larger Wisconsin presence on their roster than Iowa State. Jameel McKay (Milwaukee Pulaski), Matt Thomas (Onalaska) and Deonte Burton (Milwaukee Vincent) are each among the seven (!) players who average double figures for the Cyclones. Assistant coach TJ Otzelberger played at Thomas More High School and UW-Whitewater, and he was a coach at Burlington Catholic Central before moving up the college chain. Thomas led Onalaska to WIAA Division 2 state championship in 2012, and Burton started his career at Marquette before transferring.
Tourney trip: 18th (5 straight years). Tourney record: 16-17. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
KANSAS – The Grave Digger. Still resonating with the local fan base, former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Gilbert Brown came out of Kansas, drafted in 1993 as a third-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings. He was waived and scooped up by the Packers, where he became a centerpiece of the team’s 1996 Super Bowl run, starting all 16 games. Brown continued playing for the Packers through the 2003 season, then maintained a strong presence in the state after his playing career. He became part of the Packers Hall of Fame in 2008 and has explored a number of ventures, including co-ownership of the Milwaukee Mile race track and a short-lived stint as coach of the Milwaukee Bonecrushers arena football team. He also has a relationship with Mayfield Marketing of Oconomowoc. Pictured: Gilbert Brown oversees his annual youth football camp in Oconomowoc. Photo by Scott Ash.
Tourney trip: 45th (27 straight years). Tourney record: 97-43. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 2013 Final Four, 94-61; Lost to Marquette in 1974 Final Four, 64-51.
KENTUCKY – The greatness of 2015. Kentucky has been a central part of the three most recent runs to the Final Four for state teams. Wisconsin saw Kentucky each of the past two years in the national semifinal, last year staging perhaps the biggest win in program history when it topped the undefeated favorite (and a team with four players taken in the first 13 picks of the subsequent NBA Draft), 71-64. The year before, it was Kentucky that knocked out Wisconsin in the semifinal on a gut-wrenching late shot by Aaron Harrison. When Marquette went to the Final Four in 2003, it did so by thumping Kentucky in the Elite 8, another surprise. Marquette and Kentucky have met a staggering nine times in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky is also the alma mater of fan favorite Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb.
Tourney trip: 56th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 122-49. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2015 national semifinal, 71-64; Defeated Wisconsin in 2014 national semifinal, 74-73; Lost to Marquette in 2008 first round, 74-66; Lost to Marquette in 2003 Elite 8, 83-69; Defeated Wisconsin in 2003 Sweet 16, 63-57; Lost to Marquette in 1994 second round, 75-63; Defeated Marquette in 1975 first round, 76-54; Defeated Marquette in 1972 Sweet 16, 85-69; Lost to Marquette in 1971 regional third-place game, 91-74; Lost to Marquette in 1969 second round, 81-74; Defeated Marquette in 1968 second round, 107-89; Defeated Marquette in 1959 regional third-place game, 98-69; Lost to Marquette in 1955 second round, 79-71.
LITTLE ROCK – If you build it. Little Rock native E. Fay Jones is a disciple of famed Wisconsin architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and he’s the only of Wright’s apprentices to earn the AIA Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Institute of Architects. Jones earned the award in 1990, and he died in 2004, but not before his Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. When he was teaching at the University of Oklahoma, Jones was invited by Wright to his home in Spring Green, Wis., and the two reconvened there several times. You can find Jones’ work throughout the American south.
Tourney trip: 5th (last in 2011). Tourney record: 1-4. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never
MARYLAND – Diamond Stone. The AP Newcomer of the Year in the Big Ten has fulfilled many of the expectations heaped upon him when he transitioned from winning four state titles at Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay. He remains a top-20 projection in the upcoming NBA Draft after a freshman year where he averaged 12.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Terrapins. Stone, whose high-school career has to be among the best in state history (if not the best) raised eyebrows when he chose Maryland over the University of Wisconsin, among others, and he didn’t exactly endear himself any further to home fans when he incurred a suspension for a flagrant foul against the Badgers on Feb. 13. But he’s one of the biggest recruits the state has seen in a generation, and he made history when he and Henry Ellenson of Rice Lake were both named McDonald’s All-Americans in the same season. Pictured: Diamond Stone (left). Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 26th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 39-24. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Wisconsin in 2002 second round, 87-57.
MIAMI (FLORIDA) – Strength coach Steve Felde. Steve Felde, once director of strength and conditioning at UW-Milwaukee from 2007-12, is now in the same position with the Hurricanes after a brief stop at the University of Minnesota. He contributed to 34 Horizon League Championships with the sports at UWM, with significant progress from the volleyball and baseball teams. The Milwaukee native also graduated from Concordia University in Mequon. Now, he’s down south, though he remains an allegiant Packers fan. Miami is also the alma mater of Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun and Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields. South Milwaukee alum Trey McKinney-Jones was on the last Miami team to reach the tourney, in 2013 with a Sweet 16 appearance.
Tourney trip: 8th (last in 2013). Tourney record: 6-7. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 2013 Sweet 16, 71-61.
MICHIGAN – The Harbaughs. Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh counts as one of the most high-profile college football coaches in America, and he’ll surely spend an occasional holiday in the Milwaukee area, with parents Jack and Jackie living in Mequon. They settled north of Milwaukee when Jack became associate athletic director at Marquette University. When he was there, son-in-law Tom Crean (husband to daughter Joanie) was head of the Marquette basketball team. Jim and brother John Harbaugh famously coached against each other in the Super Bowl in early 2013, with John’s Ravens defeating Jim’s 49ers. Another note: Michigan's Caris LeVert scored 20 points in the state-title game in Ohio in 2012, as Pickerington (with three Division 1 recruits) edged Whitmer of Toledo, a team led by junior Nigel Hayes (now with Wisconsin). Pictured: Jackie and Jack Harbaugh. Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 26th (last in 2014). Tourney record: 51-24. Facing Wisconsin teams:Lost to Marquette in 1974 Elite 8, 72-70.
MICHIGAN STATE – Northern exposure. Wildly successful Michigan State coach Tom Izzo grew up not far from Wisconsin in Northern Michigan, attending Iron Mountain High School with another relatively famous coach, Steve Mariucci. The two roomed together at Northern Michigan, where Izzo stood out in basketball and Mariucci in football. The latter went on to serve as quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers from 1992-96, where he oversaw the rise of Brett Favre. Mariucci later had a long head coaching career with the 49ers and Lions, and Favre later criticized the Packers for not looking at Mariucci to fill Green Bay’s own coaching vacancy. Izzo was also acquainted in college with another Upper Peninsula native, Kevin Borseth, the head coach for the University of Wisconsin Green Bay powerhouse women’s basketball team. Among the MSU alumni is Raymond Cross, president of University of Wisconsin system.
Tourney trip: 30th (19 straight years). Tourney record: 63-28. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 2007 first round, 61-49; Defeated Wisconsin in 2000 Final Four, 53-41; Defeated UW-Green Bay in 1991 first round, 60-58; Defeated Marquette in 1959 Sweet 16, 74-69.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE – Darnell Harris. The Milwaukee Hamilton product will join his former high-school teammate, current Oregon senior Elgin Cook, as former Wildcats going dancing. At 11.7 points per game, Harris is fourth on the team in scoring. He’s a senior in his second year with the program and spent the 2012-13 season play for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he averaged 11.4 points per game, then played as a sophomore at Northwest Florida State College (junior college). Harris played with Cook and another future Division 1 player, Charlie Lee, in the 2010 state tourney, falling to Marquette in the quarterfinal.
Tourney trip: 8th (last in 2013). Tourney record: 2-7. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
NORTH CAROLINA – Morgan Paige. North Carolina’s senior leader, Marcus Paige, comes from a pretty good family of basketball players considering older sister Morgan was a standout for the University of Wisconsin. Her 1,230 points ranked 18th all time in Badgers history, and she’s third all-time in free-throw percentage at UW. She was cheering for Marcus last year, however, in her first year after graduation, when Marcus was taking on the Badgers in the Sweet 16. He averages 12 points per game this year, and the Iowa native was recruited by Wisconsin at the same time the Badgers were after Menomonee Falls standout J.P. Tokoto, who became Paige’s teammate at UNC. Pictured: Morgan Paige in 2013. Photo by Gary Porter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Tourney trip: 47th (6 straight years). Tourney record: 112-44. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2015 Sweet 16, 79-72; Defeated Marquette in 2011 Sweet 16, 81-63; Defeated Wisconsin in 2005 Elite 8, 88-82; Lost to Marquette in 1977 National Championship, 67-59.
NORTH CAROLINA-ASHEVILLE – Brandon Jennings old coach. Brett Carey, the associate head coach in the program, served as an assistant at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia in 2007-08, a nationally-ranked squad that featured Brandon Jennings, the future first-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks. Jennings spent a year playing overseas rather than play collegiately, becoming the first recruit of note to take that track, and he was taken by the Bucks with the 10th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft. During his rookie season, Jennings scored 55 points in one contest and he played in all 82 games. He spent four years in Milwaukee before he was traded to Detroit. He’s currently with the Orlando Magic.
Tourney trip: Fourth (last in 2012). Tourney record: 2-3. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON – The winter Wonderman. Wilmington’s all-time leading scorer, Brett Blizzard, finished his career with a wacky 2,114 points in 2003, and he closed his career with three NCAA tournament appearances, one first-round upset, a near-miss against Maryland and 32 school records. He’d have the perfect name for Wisconsin. The Green Bay Blizzard professional indoor football team began its 2016 season March 6 and has been in existence since 2003. Speaking of blizzards, the record for most snowfall in a 24-hour period in Wisconsin came in 1904, when Clark County recorded 26 inches. Check out more Wisconsin snowstorm stats leaders. In a more direct connection, UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary L. Miller left UNC-Wilmington to take the position in Titletown in 2014.
Tourney trip: 5th (last in 2006). Tourney record: 1-4. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
NORTHERN IOWA – Familiar state hoops families. The Koch family of Ashwaubenon and the Jespersen family of Merrill have both had a great deal of success in Wisconsin hoops, and both have a representative on the NIU squad. Bennett Koch, following in the footsteps of older brothers Jake and Adam at Northern Iowa, has started every game and averages 7.9 points per game. Adam was Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2010 for a UNI team made famous for its second-round upset in the NCAA Tournament over Kansas, boosted by a famous shot from teammate Ali Farokhmanesh. Jake finished his career second on the school’s all-time block list. Likewise, Paul Jespersen (10.9 ppg) has started every game and is the team’s third-leading scorer. After leading Merrill to the state final and earning Gatorade Player of the Year in Wisconsin in 2011, Jesperson spent two years at Virginia before transferring. His brother, David, is on the UWGVB team that's also going to the Dance. Speaking of family connections, sophomore Wyatt Lohaus' father, Brad, played five seasons for the Milwaukee Bucks. Pictured: Bennett Koch. Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: Eighth (2 straight years). Tourney record: 4-7. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2005 first round, 57-52.
NOTRE DAME – Arike Ogunbowale. Last year was simply the year of the high-school basketball player in Wisconsin. Not only did the state have an unprecedented two McDonald’s All-Americans in boys basketball in Dominican’s Diamond Stone and Rice Lake’s Henry Ellenson, it also had a representative on the girls team when Divine Savior Holy Angels star Arike Ogunbowale made the cut. Now a freshman at Notre Dame, Ogunbowale was a three-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Wisconsin and set a WIAA state record in a semifinal win over Middleton when she scored 55 points in an overtime victory for DSHA. The Dashers went on to win the state title one night later. For the Fighting Irish, Ogunbowale scored 11.7 points per game and made the ACC All-Freshman team as her No. 2-ranked squad swept the table in league play. Another phenom from Wisconsin, distance runner Molly Seidel, has won a national cross-country title and the 10,000 meters in the NCAA track and field meet while running for the Irish, then added two more national titles the weekend of Selection Sunday. She won the indoor 5K and 3K at the NCAA indoor meet. They could be the two greatest female athletes in their sport in Wisconsin history.
Tourney trip: 35th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 34-38. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated UW-Milwaukee in 2003 first round, 70-69.
OKLAHOMA – First lady of Wisconsin sports. Perhaps she's not universally beloved by all Wisconsin sports fans, but Olivia Munn has become the first lady of state sports as the girlfriend of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Oklahoma native graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and began her post-college career as a sideline reporter, but she eventually moved to acting and landed roles on Comedy Central comedy show “The Daily Show,” HBO show “The Newsroom” and upcoming feature movie ”X-Men: Apocalypse.” Furthermore, Oklahoma is also the home to former Racine Prairie girls basketball standout Gabbi Ortiz, who has started every game for the Sooners as a sophomore this year. Also, Oklahoma made it to the Sweet 16 as a 13th seed in 1999 after playing two games in Milwaukee, with Ryan Humphrey's tip-in at the buzzer thwarting Arizona. Pictured: Olivia Munn and Aaron Rodgers at a Bucks game in 2014. Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 30th (4 straight years). Tourney record: 37-29. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2006 first round, 82-74.
OREGON – Elgin Cook. In his senior season with the Ducks, the Milwaukee Hamilton product is the second leading scorer on the team at 14.3 points per game. As the City Conference Player of the Year in 2010, he led Hamilton to the WIAA state tournament, where the Wildcats lost to Marquette in the opening round. Cook has run into his home state more than he’d like in his college career, falling to Wisconsin in the second round each of the past two seasons. This year, he was named first-team All Conference for the top-seeded Ducks, and he had a huge game last year in the first round of the dance, racking up 18 points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists in a win over Oklahoma State.
Tourney trip: 14th (4 straight years). Tourney record: 16-12. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2015 second round, 72-65; Lost to Wisconsin in 2014 second round, 85-77.
OREGON STATE – Gary Andersen. About three weeks after Bret Bielema announced he was leaving Wisconsin as head football coach to take the same position at Arkansas, UW athletics director Barry Alvarez announced he was hiring Gary Andersen, former head coach at Utah State. Andersen did enjoy some success, reaching the Big Ten Championship game in 2014, but four days after that, he announced he was bolting to take the vacant position at Oregon State after just two years on the job at UW. It was a stunning move, one that put a spotlight on Wisconsin’s stringent admissions standards for athletes. His Oregon State team went 2-10 last year and 0-9 in the Pac 12. Pictured: Andersen at Wisconsin. Photo by Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Tourney trip: 17th (last in 1990). Tourney record: 17-19. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
PITTSBURGH – Paul Chryst. The University of Wisconsin football coach was hired after coaching three seasons at Pittsburgh, leading the Panthers to a bowl game each season and landing a tie for third in the ACC’s Coastal Conference in 2014. The Platteville native, UW graduate and former UW coordinator would have been a natural fit for the head job at Wisconsin two years earlier, when Bret Bielema jumped to Arkansas, but athletic director Barry Alvarez expressed that it wouldn’t be the right thing to hire someone who just left UW to become a head coach at Pitt. Instead, Wisconsin brought in Gary Andersen, and after he took the job at Oregon State two years later, Chryst became head man at Wisconsin, after all. UW took second in its division of the Big Ten in Chryst’s inaugural season. Meanwhile, his influence can still be seen at Pitt, where four players from Wisconsin (Mark Scarpinato of Marquette, Zach Poker of Oconomowoc, Jester Weah of Madison Memorial, Gabe Roberts of New London) were on the roster this past season.
Tourney trip: 26th (last in 2014). Tourney record: 24-26. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Wisconsin in 2004 second round, 59-55; Lost to Marquette in 2003 Sweet 16, 77-74; Lost to Wisconsin in 1941 regional final, 36-30.
PROVIDENCE – Junior Lomomba. Lomomba scored 18 points in the state quarterfinal in 2012, when Madison Memorial fell to Germantown. He scored 16 points one year earlier in a wild state final win over DePere, though he was one of three starters who had fouled out by the time the game was decided in triple overtime. He finished his career as the second-leading scorer in school history, which is saying something considering how strong the program has been. As a freshman starter on the 2009 state champion, he teamed with future D1 players Vander Blue and Jeronne Maymon. Originally from Canada, Lomomba played at Cleveland State before transferring to the Friars program, where he starts this year and scores 5.5 points per game.
Tourney trip: 18th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 14-18. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquete in 1997 first round, 81-59.
PURDUE – The Big Dog. On four occasions, the Milwaukee Bucks were awarded the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, and all four have had some so-so results. Kent Benson never became a superstar. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the Bucks to their lone championship in 1971 but asked for a trade after six seasons in town, and today his career is identified with the Los Angeles Lakers. Andrew Bogut was sensational at times, but injuries limited his effectiveness and availability. And Glenn Robinson, a much-hyped Purdue product, was an excellent player in Milwaukee for eight years even if he never reached the classification of “superstar.” After a holdout led into an explosive rookie contract, he had a fine first season but was obscured by classmates Grant Hill and Jason Kidd. Still, “Big Dog” was a key component of the team’s run to the 2001 Eastern Conference finals, teamed with Ray Allen and Sam Cassell. Robinson sits in second place in Bucks all-time scoring (12,010 points), behind Abdul-Jabbar. Pictured: Robinson in Journal-Sentinel file photo.
Tourney trip: 28th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 35-27. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2000 Elite 8, 64-60; Defeated UW-Green Bay in 1995 first round, 49-48; Defeated Marquette in 1969 Elite 8, 75-73.
SAINT JOSEPH'S – The Pope Zone. In September 2015, Pope Francis visited Saint Joseph's in Philadelphia, which is one of the nation's 28 Jesuit colleges and universities. It was Pope Francis' first visit to a United States Jesuit university campus. Another Jesuit university, Marquette, celebrated the Pope's visit to the U.S. at its own campus with an event called "Pope Zone." It was a big event for Marquette University with Pope Francis being the first Jesuit to lead the Catholic Church. At the Marquette event, people saw live streams of the pope's festivities, t-shirts were given out and students even took selfies with a pope cutout. Pictured: Pope Francis in Philadelphia. Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 21st (last in 2014). Tourney record: 18-24. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
SETON HALL – They got game. Seton Hall’s leading scorer, Isaiah Whitehead, and third-leading scorer Desi Rodriguez both hail from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York. It happens to be the high school for which the fictional Jesus Shuttlesworth played basketball in the 1998 Spike Lee film “He Got Game,” a story about the pressures surrounding a star player’s college choice. The role of Jesus was played by first-time actor Ray Allen, who was then a shooting guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. Allen, who spent seven seasons in Milwaukee, went on to become a 10-time All Star and will be in the NBA Hall of Fame eventually. Coincidentally, Lincoln High School is where much-hyped high-school recruit Stephon Marbury graduated in real life. The Bucks drafted Marbury with the No. 4 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft but traded him immediately for Allen, who was initially taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 5.
Tourney trip: 10th (last in 2006). Tourney record: 15-9. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE – George and Joe. One of the bigger fan favorites in recent Wisconsin Badgers history, Joe Krabbenhoft, is an assistant coach for the Jackrabbits, and former Badgers guard George Marshall is one of the team leaders in scoring at 15.0 points per game. Marshall redshirted at Wisconsin for the 2011-12 season, then appeared in every game the following year. He played in two games as a sophomore before electing to transfer to SDSU. Marshall also leads the team in assists. Krabbenhoft has been an assistant in his hometown of Sioux Falls since 2013, and he played in a school-record 136 games during his time with the Badgers. Another player, Tevin King, spent a year in the St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy post-graduate program in Delafield.
Tourney trip: 3rd (last in 2013). Tourney record: 0-2. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
SOUTHERN – Rickie Weeks. Few Brewers players in the past decade have been more polarizing than Weeks, a second baseman with infinite promise who never could put it together. The winner of the Golden Spikes Award for the top player in NCAA college baseball while at Southern in 2003 before he became the No. 2 overall selection by the Milwaukee Brewers. He started the 2011 All-Star Game and occasionally flashed immense promise, but he also struggled defensively and ultimately couldn’t do enough offensively. Milwaukee did not pursue a new contract with Weeks after 2014, and after getting released by the Seattle Mariners midway through 2015, he most recently signed a minor-league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pictured: Weeks with the Brewers. Photo by Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Tourney trip: 9th (last in 2013). Tourney record: 1-8. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA – Director's cut. Before Ron Howard won two Academy Awards for producing and directing "A Beautiful Mind," the USC graduate starred in "Happy Days" for six years. The sitcom, set in Milwaukee, ran for 11 seasons. Since leaving the show in 1980, Howard has directed such films as "Cocoon," "Apollo 13," "The Da Vinci Code" and "Frost/Nixon." "Apollo 13," of course, told the story of three astronauts on a failed mission to the moon, with Tom Hanks portraying James Lovell, who grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin. Also, did USC grad Will Ferrell just buy a lake house in Oshkosh? One last note: USC was on the losing end of the famous "Miracle in Milwaukee" when Georgia Tech won a buzzer beater in the second round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
Tourney trip: 17th (last in 2011). Tourney record: 11-19. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN – Lumberjacks. The mascot of Stephen F. Austin is a familiar symbol in Wisconsin. In fact, since 1960, the Lumberjack World Championships are held annually in Hayward, Wisconsin, featuring 21 events for both men and women and more than $50,000 in prize money. The international field of contestants competes in such events as chopping, sawing, log rolling, tree climbing and even some team and relay events. ESPN held its own version of the event, The Great Outdoor Games, and televised them until 2006. Speaking of Hayward and basketball, the girls basketball team at Hayward High School just won the program’s first state championship March 12.
Tourney trip: 4th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 1-3. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
STONY BROOK – Going streaking. Reserve forward Tyrell Sturdivant spent his senior year of high school at Chester High School in Pennsylvania, where his team reached the state semifinal. One of the school’s most famous alumni is former Badgers coach Bo Ryan, who coached Wisconsin to back-to-back Final Fours before retiring midway through the current season. Though all came after Ryan’s playing days, where he was an excellent guard, Chester has won eight state championships, most recently in 2012. When it lost in the 2013 state-title game, it snapped a streak of 79 consecutive wins against in-state teams. The program lost earlier in the year to an out-of-state team to snap a state-record 61-game winning streak. In Wisconsin, Germantown was in the midst of its own state-record winning streak at the time, one that ended in January of 2014 at 69 games.
Tourney trip: First. Tourney record: 0-0. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
SYRACUSE – The Senators. Three state senators from Wisconsin graduated from Syracuse. Angus Cameron, who lived from 1826 to 1897, moved to LaCrosse to become a banker but eventually became a member of the Wisconsin State Senate as a member of the Republican Party. Rodney Moen, a Whitehall native, served in the U.S Navy for more than 20 years and joined the senate from 1983-2003 as a Democrat, serving three terms as Assistant Majority Leader. Moreecai Lee, who is today a member of the UW-Milwaukee faculty, was elected to the state assembly in 1976 and the senate from 1983-1989. He was succeeded in his Senate seat by current Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett. Lee received his PhD from Syracuse.
Tourney trip: 38th (last in 2014). Tourney record: 61-37. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Marquette in 2013 Elite 8, 55-39; Defeated Wisconsin in 2012 Sweet 16, 64-63; Lost to Marquette in 2011 second round, 66-62; Defeated UW-Green Bay in 1994 second round, 64-59.
TEMPLE – Bad Wisconsin sports memories. Temple is located in Philadelphia, home to the source of many Wisconsin sports disappointments, though it may not have the same reputation as other sources of Wisconsin sadness. The 2001 Eastern Conference finals (famously disputed for questionable officiating) took place against the Phiadelphia 76ers. After more than 25 years out of the Major League Baseball playoffs, the Milwaukee Brewers got back in 2008, only to lose to eventual World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies in the first round (why, oh why, did they start Suppan in Game 4?). And the infamous 4th-and-26 playoff loss for the Green Bay Packers came at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. At least the University of Wisconsin beat Temple earlier this year, 76-60, in a rare moment of dominance in a rough early-season showing.
Tourney trip: 32nd (last in 2013). Tourney record: 33-31. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
TEXAS – Shaka Smart. State fans have linked Smart to the recent coaching vacancy at Marquette (he was famously reported to be accepting the job when Buzz Williams left abruptly for Virginia Tech), and still others saw him as a potential heir to Bo Ryan at Wisconsin. But the Oregon, Wisc. native went a different direction – south – when he left VCU for the Texas opening before the season. The former second-team All Conference choice as a player in the Badger Conference was an assistant at Clemson and Florida before becoming head man at VCU, where he led the Commodores to an improbable Final Four in 2011. At Texas, he’s helped the Longhorns compete for a top-four finish (after finishing 8-10 in league play last year) in what is hands down the toughest basketball conference in the country, the Big 12. Pictured: Shaka Smart after reaching Final Four with VCU. Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 33rd (3 straight years). Tourney record: 35-35. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated Wisconsin in 1997 first round, 71-58.
TEXAS A&M – Old Carroll connection. Aggies football coach Matty Bell led A&M from 1929 to 1933. A few years earlier, in 1922, Bell headed Carroll University's (then Carroll College) football team in Waukesha. It was only a one-year stay at the program, but today, Bell is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He coached Southern Methodist University to a national championship in 1935, and his overall head football coaching record was 143-87-16. Carroll football began in 1920.
Tourney trip: 14th (last in 2011). Tourney record: 9-13. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
TEXAS TECH – Rich source of Green and Gold. The Green Bay Packers have drafted the most Red Raiders (11) of any team in the NFL. The first taken came in 1945 when Walt Schlinkman was selected. One of the more accomplished Tech picks was Donny Anderson, a member of the Packers’ first two Super Bowl-winning teams and a Pro Bowl selection in 1968. Anderson is now a Packers Hall of Famer and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. The most recent pick came in 1969 when the Packers took kicker Ken Vinyard.
Tourney trip: 15th (last in 2007). Tourney record: 8-15. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
TULSA – The Original Point Forward. The Bucks have made news lately turning occasionally to big man Giannis Antetokounmpo to run the point guard position despite his height making him a more natural fit for the post. It wasn’t long ago that Tulsa alum and longtime Bucks player Paul Pressey was credited with becoming the original “point forward,” when at 6-5, he led the team in assists five straight years. A first-round choice by Milwaukee in 1982, Pressey played with the Bucks until 1990, and he averaged 10l6 points and 5.1 assists per game over his career. Twice he was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team.
Tourney trip: 16th (last in 2014). Tourney record: 12-15. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2003 second round, 61-60; Defeated Marquette in 2002 first round, 71-69.
UTAH – Andrew Bogut. The Milwaukee Bucks were surprise winners of the 2005 NBA Draft lottery, enabling them to take Naismith Player of the Year Andrew Bogut out of Utah. He was a member of the All-Rookie team that first season and averaged closet to a double-double in 2007-08, but injuries frequently served as roadblocks for the 7-foot center. In the midst of a strong 2009-10 season, Bogut broke his hand and dislocated his elbow on a fast break, cutting his “Fear the Deer” campaign short. He finished averaging 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game that season. The Bucks still took Atlanta to seven games in the first round of the playoffs, and today, Bogut is a key contributor to the record-setting Golden State Warriors squad. Pictured: Bogut with Bucks. Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 29th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 37-31. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
VANDERBILT – Riley LaChance. The Brookfield Central product was part of a team that ranked among the best in the state his senior year two years ago, snapping Germantown’s state-record 69-game winning streak. He made the All-Freshman team in the SEC last year, averaging 12.3 points in a sensational rookie year. His production has dropped in his sophomore campaign, but he still averages 7.1 points per game for a team that has won a ton of big games this season, including one win over Kentucky.
Tourney trip: 14th (last in 2012). Tourney record: 10-14. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2012 first round, 60-57; Lost to Marquette in 1974 Sweet 16, 69-61.
VILLANOVA – Baker Dunleavy. Since 2013, Dunleavy has been associate head coach for Villanova under long-tenured head coach Jay Wright. Dunleavy’s father, Mike, was head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks for four seasons from 1992-96. Baker’s older brother, Mike Jr., spent two seasons with the Bucks from 2011-13, averaging double figures both seasons. Mike Jr. attended University School of Milwaukee as a freshman and Homestead High School as a sophomore while his father coached in town, but he never played for the Homestead basketball team.
Tourney trip: 36th (4 straight years). Tourney record: 51-35. Facing Wisconsin teams: Defeated UW-Milwaukee in 2014 first round, 73-53; Defeated Marquette in 1980 first round, 77-59.
VIRGINIA – Wisconsin's next coach ... or not. Virginia coach Tony Bennett's name has been, until recently, on the lips of many University of Wisconsin fans as the top option to replace Bo Ryan as head coach of the Badgers. But Greg Gard proved to be too strong a candidate after a tremendous performance as interim coach, and Bennett will have to settle for being a National Coach of the Year candidate at Virginia. The son of longtime state coach Dick Bennett, who led the Badgers to the 2000 Final Four, Tony made a name for himself playing for his father at UW-Green Bay. He finished his career as the Mid-Continent Conference’s all-time leader in points and assists, and he’s still regarded as one of the best 3-point shooters in NCAA history. Today, he’s considered a defensive wizard. He has yet to reach beyond the Sweet 16 as a coach, however. Evan Nolte, who has seen the floor in 30 games, is the son of former Carroll College player Kurt Nolte and was born in the Milwaukee area. Pictured: Tony Bennett. Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 20th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 25-19. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH – The Larry Sanders show. The obvious connection to VCU is Oregon, Wis. native Shaka Smart, now the head coach at Texas, who coached VCU on a thrilling Cinderella run to the 2011 Final Four. As if that needed an additional layer of intrigue, VCU was one year removed from seeing junior big man Larry Sanders declare for the NBA Draft, where he was scooped up by the Milwaukee Bucks with the No. 15 pick. Everybody involved probably wishes Sanders had stayed that next year. He developed into one of the game’s top shot blockers by 2012, but he signed a 4-year, $44 million deal with the Bucks in mid-2013 that turned into a disaster. An incident in a club led to a torn ligament that sidelined him for a good chunk of 2013-14, he violated the league’s drug policy and walked away from the game by early 2015.
Tourney trip: 15th (6 straight years). Tourney record: 12-14. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
WEBER STATE – Raptors! Weber State is located in Ogden, Utah, which is also home to a rookie-level minor league baseball team, the Ogden Raptors. Today, the Pioneer League unit is the affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but from 1996-2002, it served the Milwaukee Brewers. Just as the first wave of top prospects was filtering into the system that would help the franchise enjoy success in 2006-2011, players such as Corey Hart, Ben Sheets, Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy all served as Ogden Raptors for a brief time. Speaking of raptors, the family in the 2015 blockbuster film “Jurassic World” lived near Madison and presumably flew out of Dane County Airport to get to an island inhabited by dinosaurs (in a world where nobody really asks “What could go wrong?”), though the filmmakers were never in Madison or captured any footage within the state. Raptors are the best.
Tourney trip: 16th (last in 2014). Tourney record: 6-16. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Wisconsin in 2003 first round, 81-74.
WEST VIRGINIA – Musical football traditions. If you research any assemblage of “best college football traditions,” you’ll frequently find West Virginia and the University of Wisconsin on the same lists. Since 1972, the Mountaineers have used John Denver song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as the football theme, with fans singing it before each game and after every win. Wisconsin’s comparable tradition is a tad more active, with “Jump Around” played (and acted out) by those in attendance before the fourth quarter of every Badgers home game since 1997.
Tourney trip: 27th (2 straight years). Tourney record: 27-26. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
WICHITA STATE – Can’t catch Jordy. Wichita State assistant director of media relations, Bryan Holmgren came close to topping a kid from Riley County High School in Kansas named Jordy Nelson in the track and field state championships in 2002. Holmgren, competing for Wichita-Collegiate High School, took second in the 400 meters, but the junior Nelson won the title in 49.50. As it turned out, Nelson was just getting started. The future Green Bay Packers wide receiver, occasionally regarded as having “deceptive speed” was far from deceptive as a senior, when he won the 100 (10.63 seconds), 200 (21.64), 400 (48.79) and long jump (22-9.5). Nelson was winning big-time track titles already at age 10, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s so difficult to track down.
Tourney trip: 13th (5 straight years). Tourney record: 15-13. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
WISCONSIN – Located in Wisconsin. It didn’t look good as recently as late January for the Badgers this year, but UW is in the dance for an 18th straight season, a mark that trails only Kansas, Duke and Michigan State. There are obviously numerous connections, including Germantown product Zak Showalter playing a key glue role as a starter and La Crosse Aquinas product Bronson Koenig netting third-team All Conference (coaches) in the Big Ten. Other Wisconsinites are on the roster (Will Decorah, Brevin Pritzl, Matt Ferris, Aaron Moesch, TJ Schlundt), and newly minted coach Greg Gard attended Southwestern High School and served with coach Bo Ryan at UW-Platteville.
Tourney trip: 22nd (18 straight years). Tourney record: 34-20. Facing (other) Wisconsin teams: Never.
WISCONSIN-GREEN BAY – Located in Wisconsin. Four of the top seven scorers for the Phoenix hail from the Badger State, including Pius grad Carrington Love, who scored fewer than 10 points per game last year but scores 18 this season and netted first-team All Conference in the Horizon League. Jordan Fouse (Racine St. Catherine’s) started every game of his four-year career at UWGB and is the program’s all-time leader in rebounds, steals and starts. Jamar Hurdle is from Milwaukee Madison, and Kenneth Lowe and Turner Botz hail from Little Chute. Pictured: Karem Kanter (left) and Carrington Love celebrate after defeating Valparaiso in the Horizon League semifinal. Photo by Associated Press.
Tourney trip: 5th (last in 1996). Tourney record: 1-4. Facing (other) Wisconsin teams: Never.
XAVIER – Wisconsin high-school namesake. Xavier isn’t an uncommon name, though it is the only university in Division 1 to begin with an “X.” One high school in Wisconsin – Xavier High School in Appleton – may have the most impressive list of familiar alumni of any school in the state. Among the alumni are four-time Super Bowl winning running back Rocky Bleier (1964), PGA golfer JP Hayes (1983) and Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren (1972), who rose to fame as a legal analyst during the OJ Simpson trial. Which, as it happens, has become quite the story in recent weeks thanks to an FX television program dramatically re-enacting the circumstances of the case and a recent potential discovery of new evidence.
Tourney trip: 26th (3 straight years). Tourney record: 23-25. Facing Wisconsin teams: Lost to Marquette in 2011 first round, 66-55; Defeated Wisconsin in 2009 second round, 60-49.
YALE – Wisconsin’s A-list actors. Tony Shaloub, who played the television character “Monk” on USA for eight years and earned a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series (musical or comedy), hails from Green Bay and attended the Yale School of Drama to get his master’s degree. He has also been credited with encouraging Greendale native Jane Kaczmarek to pursue her own acting dreams, and she followed Shaloub to Yale after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. Kaczmarek reeled in numerous award nominations for her role as Lois, the matriarch on Fox comedy Malcolm in the Middle. While at Yale, she met another Wisconsinite actor, Madison native Bradley Whitford, famous for playing Josh Lyman on “The West Wing” and the antagonist in Adam Sandler movie “Billy Madison.” Whitford and Kaczmarek were married for 16 years and had three children together before divorcing in 2009. Whitford also has a Golden Globe, won for Best Supporting Actor in 2001 for his role on “The West Wing.”
Tourney trip: First. Tourney Record: 0-0. Facing Wisconsin teams: Never.
Sconnie Men at the Dance
Wisconsin players in the NCAA Tournament include (from left, top row) Kevin Mays (SJNMA) of Cal-State Bakersfield, Lamonte Bearden (Germantown) of Buffalo, Diamond Stone (Dominican) of Maryland, (second row) Riley LaChance (Brookfield Central -- far left) of Vanderbilt, Jameel McKay (Milwaukee Pulaski) of Iowa State, Elgin Cook (Milwaukee Hamilton) of Oregon, (bottom row) Phillip Nolan (Milwaukee Riverside) of UCONN and Carrington Love (Milwaukee Pius) of UW-Green Bay. Bottom left: Bronson Koenig (Aquinas) of Wisconsin. Bottom right: Zak Showalter (Germantown) of Wisconsin.
Sconnie Women at the Dance
Representatives in the women's NCAA tournament hail from Wisconsin, as well. Pictured above: Arike Ogunbowale (left) with top-seeded Notre Dame. Below: Gabbi Ortiz of Racine Prairie drives with the ball for Oklahoma.
UW-Green Bay players:
Laken James (Oconto); Mehryn Kraker (West Allis Central); Allie LeClaire (Notre Dame); Jessica Lindstrom (Superior); Ashley Luke (Oak Creek); Sam Terry (Baraboo); Lexi Weitzer (Waukesha South); Jen Wellnitz (Black Hawk); Mackenzie Wolf (Sheboygan North); Madison Wolf (Sheboygan North); Frankie Wurtz (Kimberly)
Karynda DuPree (Wisconsin Lutheran), Iona
Kayla Goth (DeForest), Kansas State
Ellie Harmeyer (Shoreland Lutheran), Belmont
Hannah Harmeyer (Shoreland Lutheran), Belmont
Breanna Lewis (Milwaukee Riverside), Kansas State
Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels), Notre Dame
Gabbi Ortiz (Racine Prairie), Oklahoma
Top graphic by Matt Colby. Evan Frank contributed to the capsules.