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Men's basketball 'March Madness' begins for Marquette, Badgers

March Madness begins Thursday for the first of two Wisconsin teams in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Marquette, the No. 3 seed in the East Region, will play 14th-seeded Davidson around 2:10 p.m. Thursday. It'll be shown on Tru TV, a Turner-owned channel that many cable systems picked up two years ago when it started televising NCAA games.

Tru TV will also show Friday's Wisconsin Badger tournament opener against Mississippi.

Marquette enters the big dance at 23-8, with a three-way share of the season title in the final year of the original Big East Conference. Davidson is 27-6 after winning the Southern Conference crown.

Thursday's winner will play either Butler or Bucknell in a third-round matchup on Saturday. If it's Marquette and Butler, it will be a preview of what could be a key rivalry in the newly formed Big East Conference that will start playing this fall.

Butler, Xavier, and Creighton officially joined the new basketball-first league Wednesdday, joining Marquette and six other old Big East schools in the new league of the same name.

Bruesewitz expects 'wild' tourney

Wisconsin senior forward Mike Bruesewitz, a St. Paul native, expects a "wild" NCAA Tournament. He says no team can afford to look ahead beyond its next game.

For Wisconsin, that's a second-round West Regional matchup tomorrow against Ole Miss in Kansas City. Bruesewitz says, "We've got to knock guys down systematically, one team at a time." He said he likes the Badgers' draw as the No. 5 seed, playing a 12th-seed in Ole Miss.

As Bruesewitz put it, "We've got a good shot at making some noise."

He says he's glad not to be playing any more Big Ten teams for a while. He said they beat themselves up during the conference schedule.

In Wisconsin's last 19 games, 11 opponents were nationally-ranked teams. The Badgers are ranked themselves, 18th by the AP and 17th by the coaches.

Mississippi received votes in both polls, but did not make the Top 25 in either.

Friday's winner will play either Kansas State or LaSalle in the third round on Sunday.

Tiny Davidson plays big

Davidson may be a tiny school for Division I, but Marquette players say they have the utmost respect for the Wildcats.

Davidson has less than 2,000 students on its campus near Charlotte. But they almost made the Final Four in 2008 when they surprised Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 round.

Stephen Curry scored 33 points in that game. He has long since moved on to the NBA, but today's best players for Davidson - forwards Jake Cohen and De'Mon Brooks - said they decided to join the Wildcats after seeing Curry burn the Badgers. The 6-10 Cohen is Davidson's leading scorer and rebounder.

Marquette guard Trent Lockett says the Wildcats are well-rounded and very disciplined. They're also a physical team.

Badger football will open 2015 season against 'Bama

The Wisconsin football team said yesterday it would open the 2015 season against two-time defending BCS champion Alabama. The game will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 5 of 2015.

Badger fans have demanded that the team toughen up its non-conference schedule. Athletic director Barry Alvarez says it's a top priority, mainly because strength of schedule will be a factor in the new four-team playoff system in the BCS group.

Alvarez says the Badgers "want to be in that mix." He said it's a priority throughout the Big Ten to get rid of soft non-conference matchups.

Wisconsin had sought a home-and-home series with Alabama in 2011, but Crimson Tide coach Lou Saban said no at that juncture.