By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Mar 16, 2009 at 5:27 AM

Don't expect any sort of home-court advantage for either Marquette or Wisconsin at Boise State University's Taco Bell Arena this weekend.

Even though both the Badgers and Golden Eagles will open the NCAA Tournament Friday in Idaho, it's a good thing that the two teams are playing in separate sessions and different sections, because it's highly unlikely the teams' fans will hang around to root for the other.

Wesley Matthews, one of Marquette's trio of senior guards -- and a Madison native -- agreed with that sentiment. He knows of few Badger fans who would root for their rivals to the east, just as few people with gold sweater vests in their closet would let themselves cheer anything related to the big public university in the state capital.

Nonetheless, the road to the Final Four begins in Boise for both teams.

Marquette (24-9), the No. 6 seed in the West region, will play No. 11 seed Utah State of the Western Athletic Conference. Wisconsin (19-12) received the No. 12 seed in the East and will take on No. 5 seed Florida State, which lost to Duke Sunday in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship game Sunday.

For Marquette, the high seeding is a testament to the Big East Conference's strength. The Golden Eagles, pegged by some to be a potential Final Four team, lost senior point guard Dominic James early in a 93-82 loss against top-seed Connecticut on Feb. 25. Including that loss, Marquette finished the season with a four-game losing streak - all against ranked teams and three of those opponents (UConn, Louisville and Pittsburgh) ended up with No. 1 seeds in the tournament.

Even without James, the Golden Eagles were in each of those games. The losses were more a result of poor shooting than the absence of their injured point guard. It's a new season, though, and first-year head coach Buzz Williams plans to have his squad ready and isn't concerned about where it ended up in the brackets.

"I don't know that there is a lot of difference between six and eleven," Williams said. "All of those teams are really good."

Utah State (30-4), meanwhile, is going dancing after beating Nevada, 72-62 in the WAC Tournament final. The Aggies won a school-record 30 games this season, thanks in large part to a balanced offensive attack and a consistent defense that's held opponents to just 40 percent shooting this season.

The Aggies are led by 6-9 forward Gary Wilkinson, who averaged 17.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Junior Jared Quayle and sophomore forward Tai Wesley also have double-digit scoring averages and will demand a lot of defensive attention.

Williams is glad his team is playing on Friday, the tournament's second day.

"We'll have our hands full with Utah State," Williams said. "They run about 200 set plays. Their best player was the player of the year in that league.

"Playing on Friday is beneficial because we will need every single minute of preparation."

Coach Bo Ryan's Badgers are making their record 11th consecutive NCAA appearance. Wisconsin struggled at times this season, losing six straight games early in the Big Ten season before winning seven of its last nine regular-season games.

Wisconsin was one of the last teams to make the field and most analysis consider the Badgers to be one of the finals teams to earn a bid. It made little difference to Ryan, who's well-versed in talking to the media without ever saying a thing.

He played it cool at a Kohl Center press conference after the pairings were announced Sunday.

"You can't do anything about it," Ryan said. "I only get nervous about things when I'm watching the (Philadelphia) Phillies play."

The Badgers hot-and-cold offense again reared its ugly head in at the Big Ten Tournament, where a second-half scoring drought led to a 61-57 quarterfinal loss to Ohio State.

It's a far cry from where Wisconsin was a year ago. The Badgers earned a No. 3 seed in 2008 after winning the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles with a 16-2 record in league play. Their post-season run came to an end in the Sweet 16 when hot-shooting Davidson - a 10 seed -- upset Wisconsin, 73-56.

They've never before been a No. 12 seed - the program's previous lowest seed was a No. 9 slot in 1994 and 2006. The Badgers were one of the last teams to make the 65-team field, but -- like their coach -- the players aren't worrying about seeding or their status on the national scene.

"We're going to prepare for (Florida State) like we do any other team, whether we're one, 16, 12, it doesn't matter," said senior forward Marcus Landry. "You have to go out there; you go out there with one thing on your mind - to win."

Led by ACC coach of the year Leonard Hamilton, Florida State is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. The Seminoles' 25 victories are the most since Charlie Ward led the team to the Elite Eight in 1993.

Wisconsin will have to find a way to stop Toney Douglas, who led the ACC with 725 points this season and scored 80 points in the Seminoles' three ACC Tournament games. A 6-2 senior guard, Douglas finished just shy of the league lead for steals.

But it's not what the Seminoles do on offense that's made them so good this season. Florida State is one of the nation's best defensive team, leading the ACC in scoring defense (68.1), defensive field goal percentage (40.3) while finishing second defending the three-pointer (31.9 percent).

If the Badgers can contain Douglas -- and hit their shots -- they'll stand a good chance of advancing to face either No. 4 Xavier or No. 13 Portland State in a second-round game on Sunday.

Not that anybody's looking ahead. For the seniors on both teams, it's one last chance.

"We know the games are numbered now," said Wisconsin's Joe Krabbenhoft. "We're just going to go out and play and have fun and enjoy it."