"Selection Sunday" is five days away, but we're going to get a little jump on things by trying to figure out which state team has the best chance to make some noise during March Madness.
The two big dogs used to being in the NCAA tournament are, of course, Marquette and Wisconsin. They have both had varied records of success, but this year is full of question marks.
Both UWM and UW-Green Bay had chances to make it into the NCAA by winning their conference tournament. Both were eliminated before getting very far.
Let's start with Marquette.
The Golden Eagles came into this season with high hopes, which seemed justified. That guard trio was spectacular throughout the season and this seemed like a team that was ready to compete with the big boys.
Then, Dominic James was lost for the season and it was like the air went out of Marquette's balloon. In the space of 10 days, the Golden Eagles lost three straight. Granted they were beaten by heavyweights Connecticut, Louisville and Pitt, but if you want to play in the major leagues you need to do better than 0-3 against top teams.
To top it off, they lost their final regular-season game, at home, against a lower-ranked Syracuse team.
If you watched Connecticut and Pittsburgh on Saturday, you could easily see how far away Marquette is from that level. Those teams are big, fast, tough, smart, well coached and passionate. Everything a great college basketball team needs to be.
The other thing is that Buzz Williams has never coached a team in an NCAA tournament game. Every coach will tell you that it's a different game in the tournament and that experience really pays off
And it's a shame, really. With James in the lineup, the Golden Eagles played a ferocious defense and everyone knows great defense keeps you in games. Without him, they are something else.
Despite saying all the right things, this team is not going anywhere in the NCAA tourney. It wouldn't surprise me at all if two of those three guards, Wes Matthews and Jerel McNeal, end up playing in the NBA.
On to the Wisconsin Badgers and Bo Ryan ...
It's been a disappointing year for Wisconsin. First, the Badgers lost the battle for state supremacy by losing to Marquette. Then, in the middle of the season, Wisconsin lost six games in a row to Purdue, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Purdue again and Northwestern.
It was a dangerous time for Wisconsin, but Ryan isn't regarded as one of the very best coaches in the country for nothing. He got his troops together, lifted their tongues off the floor and turned the ship around.
Regardless of the turnaround, Wisconsin doesn't have a lot going for it as the NCAA tournament approaches. It is almost beyond imagination that the Badgers won't get invited to the tournament. They have an RPI rating in the 30's and they have Ryan.
Coaching has a big impact in the NCAA tournament and the officials who run it have a reverence for coaches of accomplishment. Ryan clearly fits that bill. With him calling the shots, Wisconsin stands a slight chance of doing more damage in the tournament that Marquette.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.