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UW-Madison and Marquette NCAA tournament preview: Who will go further?

Posted at 4:47 PM, Mar 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-18 17:47:02-04

MILWAUKEE — Perhaps the greatest, most intense sporting event of the year begins this week with two of Wisconsin's own.

The NCAA Tournament, otherwise known as March Madness, begins with 68 teams. Two of the 68 teams chosen to take part are the Wisconsin Badgers and Marquette Golden Eagles.

Prior to conference play, Marquette defeated 21st-ranked Wisconsin at Fiserv Forum in overtime, 74-69. Since then, both teams have been on quite a roller coaster.

After defeating the Badgers and North Dakota a week later, Marquette jumped into the AP Top 25 at No. 20.

The Golden Eagles continued to rise in the rankings, defeating No. 14 Buffalo by 18 and going 15-2 in their next 17 games. Marquette stayed in the AP Top 10 for three weeks, dropped to No. 11 and then jumped back to No. 10 the following week.

Once their hot streak ended, the Golden Eagles fell fast. They dropped four consecutive conference games, failed to win the Big East title and finished the season at No. 23.

Over in Madison, the Badgers went 4-4 in their next eight games. They remained in the AP Top 25 up until Week 10. Three weeks later, they were back in.

Wisconsin had key victories against Michigan and Minnesota, two teams headed to March Madness, and finished the season on a three-game winning streak.

Markus Howard and Ethan Happ are being considered as All-Americans, but Happ is not a finalist for Naismith Player of the Year.

Howard was named Big East Player of the Year and is a semifinalist for Player of the Year.

On Thursday, Marquette will take on Ja Morant, a projected top-five pick in the NBA draft, and Murray State. Wisconsin will head out West to take on the Oregon Ducks on Friday.

Only time will tell which team will go further, but the inconsistency toward the end of the season for Marquette is something to note.