What has to happen for Marquette and Wisconsin to meet in the NCAA Tournament?

Badgers and Golden Eagles both in East Region
What has to happen for Marquette and Wisconsin to meet in the NCAA Tournament?
Posted at 12:16 PM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 13:17:39-04

For the first time since 2013, both the Wisconsin Badgers and the Marquette Golden Eagles will be playing in the NCAA tournament.

Despite the in-state rivalry that results in the annual December regular season game, the two schools have never met in the Big Dance. This season, both teams have been slotted into the East Region, with Wisconsin as an 8 seed, and the Golden Eagles as a 10. Let’s examine the 2017 bracket to see what it will take to see a Marquette-Wisconsin collision this March.

Both teams have winnable first round games. Wisconsin takes on Virginia Tech Thursday night in Buffalo in the 8-9 toss-up game. The Badgers have a little history with the Hokies; Virginia Tech is led by former Marquette head coach Buzz Williams. Williams is 3-4 all-time against Wisconsin.

At the bottom of the region, Marquette travels to Greenville to take on 7 seed South Carolina Friday night. The Golden Eagles boast one of the best offenses in the nation, which should be able to overpower the Gamecocks third-ranked defense.

The second round is where things get tricky. Wisconsin would almost certainly face top overall seed Villanova, while Marquette would have to deal with the scorching hot Duke Blue Devils. Still, Villanova lacks depth, and plays a similar style to the Badgers. Wisconsin has a chance in a slug-fest. Meanwhile, a Marquette-Duke matchup (Battle for Wojo, anyone?) will be high-scoring affair. The Golden Eagles are the top three-point shooting team in the country, so if they get hot, they can knock off anyone in the country (ie: their comeback win over Villanova in January).

In the Sweet 16, it is anyone’s guess as to what the matchups will be. Wisconsin would likely play either four seed Virginia or five seed Florida, while Marquette would have to deal with three seed Baylor or six seed SMU. All of those teams are flawed, so if the Badgers and Golden Eagles can stay hot, both would advance to the Elite Eight in the East Region.

The Badgers have the type of pedigree to make a run. In the last three years, Wisconsin has made two Final Fours and a Sweet 16. They know what it takes with veteran leaders like Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes.

On the other side, Marquette has just the type of team that can make some noise as a double-digit seed. Their offense and shooting make it tough for teams to prepare on short notice.

So while it is unlikely both teams play their best this month, it is still a distinct possibility. There is a chance that the Cheesehead state could be on center stage with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

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