By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Mar 28, 2003 at 5:16 AM

The Marquette Golden Eagles are now flying solo in the NCAA tournament.

Marquette survived a Pitt comeback to post a 77-74 win Thursday night that puts them into an Elite 8 matchup against Kentucky, which eliminated the Wisconsin Badgers earlier the same evening. UWM, the third state team to make it to the NCAA tourney, was eliminated in a first round game against Notre Dame last week.

The Golden Eagles will be making their first trip to a NCAA regional final in 25 years. They play Kentucky Saturday.


Dwayne Wade took over the second half against Pitt, but the Golden Eagles showed they no longer are just four other guys watching Wade do it all. When Wade was cold in the first half, Robert Jackson and Scott Merritt provided much of the offense. Merritt also had four clutch free throws in the final minute to hold off the Pitt comeback.

Kentucky will not be easy. The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in most polls and are the No. 1 seed in the Midwest regional.

But, Jackson and Merritt will provide more of a challenge down deep for the Wildcats' frontcourt. Marquette also is deeper than the Badgers. Point guard Travis Diener is running the offense to near perfection and has become the darling of the CBS commentators.

The Wildcats also might be without their leading scorer, Keith Bogans, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the game against UW.

So, the Golden Eagles have a legitimate shot at an upset Saturday and a trip to the Final Four.

Badgers Valiant Effort

The Badgers gave Kentucky a great game, but in the end two season-long weaknesses -- the lack of size and depth -- led to their 63-57 defeat.

UW just could not handle the Wildcats' 6-9 center, Marquis Estill, who lit the Badgers up for 28 points, mostly in the paint. The Wildcats also had the depth to overcome the injury to Bogans.

The Badgers looked tired at the end of the game. Fatigue was a very likely factor in a couple crucial missed shots by Mike Wilkinson before he fouled out.

But, the Badgers can feel proud of their entire season. Kirk Penney scored 20 points in his final game in a UW uniform. Milwaukee's Devin Harris showed he will likely be an All American before he leaves Wisconsin.

UWM still celebrating

They're still celebrating the Panthers' first-ever trip to the NCAA tourney at UWM. Next Tuesday, April 1, you can join coach Bruce Pearl and several of his players at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning commons for the UWM Gives To UWM Tip-off celebration. Donations can be made to scholarship funds at the event.

Exhibitions at Miller Park

The Brewers will play the Minnesota Twins in exhibition games Friday night and Saturday afternoon at Miller Park. They will be without outfielder Geoff Jenkins, who went on the 15-day disabled list retroactively with a wrist injury. Jenkins will be eligible to come off the DL after five regular season games.

Friday's game is a freebee. The first 10,000 fans who attend Saturday's game will receive either a Richie Sexson hat or a Major League Baseball T-shirt. Miller Park officials also say repairs are just about completed on the leaks in the stadium roof.

On paper, the Brewers don't look appreciably better than last season. They did not perform well in Arizona. Look for an in-depth preview of the team, and predictions for both leagues, in next Friday's column.

The Name Game

Veteran sportscaster Dennis Krause has been fired by TMJ4. Krause, a native of Hartford, has been one of the most solid electronic media sportscasters in the market for several years. Management at the station simply said it is looking to go in a different direction. Krause might remain as the second announcer on Bucks' radio broadcasts….Former UW coach Dick Bennett apparently is interested in coaching again, and is considered a frontrunner at Washington State. Rumors are that Tony Bennett, now an assistant coach at UW, will join his dad if he gets the State job...Elm Grove's Tim Kent has reached South America in the Around Alone sailing competition. Tim will rest and make some repairs to his Everest Horizontal boat before taking off on the last leg of the around-the-world competition….Admirals left wing Darren Haydar has been named to the American Hockey League All Rookie Team. Haydar leads the Admirals in scoring with 71 points.

Look for The Name Game each week in the State Sports Buzz.

Hot Tix

It's a relatively light weekend at the Bradley Center.

The slumping Bucks will try to keep their playoff hopes alive when they host the Miami Heat Sunday at 3 p.m. at the BC. The Bucks are battling for the eighth, and final playoff spot, in the NBA Eastern Conference.

The Admirals are on the road all weekend. The Wave doesn't play again until April 6, when it starts playoff action. By the way, a bobblehead of veteran goalie Victor Nogueira will be given away at that game.

Despite the slow weekend at the BC, local sports fans can still take in a little ball at Miller Park in person and watch the Golden Eagles attempt to make it to the Final Four on TV.

Gregg Hoffmann writes The State Sports Buzz on Fridays for OMC.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.