Wisconsin Badgers (29-4) vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans (24-8).
1. Team of the 2000's? OK, that may be taking things a bit too far, but let's review what the basketball Badgers have accomplished since the year 2000. One Final Four, 2 Elite Eights, 3 Sweet Sixteens, 3 Big Ten Regular Season titles (2 outright) and two Big Ten Tournament titles. Although the casual fan might most easily identify with Indiana or Michigan State as traditional Big Ten powers, Indiana has not won an outright Big Ten regular season title since 1993 and Michigan State hasn't won one since 1999. The most amazing stat is Wisconsin has made the NCAA Tournament in 10 straight seasons. Coming in to this season, only five teams can top that streak: Arizona (23), Kansas (18), Kentucky (16), Duke (12), Michigan State (10). Not bad company. What is even more amazing is that prior to this run, Wisconsin only made the NCAA Tournament twice since their 1941 national championship; the 1994 Michael Finley-led team and the 1997 squad.
2. The Badgers' leaders. Leading scorer Brian Butch (whose elbow has not been grotesquely inverted yet this season), has two favorite TV shows: Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch. Hopefully those trucks on Ice Road Truckers don't run over any polar bears. Butch also receives text messages from Erin Andrews after hitting game winning shots, so he has that going for him, which is nice. Butch is also the leading rebounder so we will give you a tidbit on second leading rebounder, Joe Krabbenhoft, who Seth Davis said he was going to name his dog after. Krabbenhoft, who played for a team called the Rough Riders in South Dakota in high school, has had more than 35 separate "stitch events" to his face over the years, according to his mom. This will serve him well if he ever tries out to be Mr. Met. Krabbenhoft is also the team's leader in assists, so we will move along to the No. 2 assist man, Trevon Hughes, a promising sophomore from Queens. Two things about Trevon stand out to me. The first is that his favorite Madison restaurant is Qdoba. Outstanding. You can't go wrong with Qdoba on State Street at 2:30 in the morning. Also, his favorite Halloween costume is a skeleton. I can only hope Trevon's friends also dressed up as skeletons and chased around someone dressed like Daniel LaRusso while yelling such lines as "Sweep the leg!" and "Get him a body bag Johnny, Yah!" while singing "You're the Best Around."
3. Bucky Badger, Available for your wedding. Mr. Buckingham U. Badger, Bucky to his close friends, has been patrolling the sidelines at University of Wisconsin sporting events since 1949. Bucky's name stems from a line in the school's fight song, "On, Wisconsin," where the football team is inspired to "buck right through that line." A live badger was first brought to a football game in 1940 but proved to be too rambunctious and hostile towards people, surprisingly, and was retired to a local zoo. Its offspring went on to star in the Badger, Badger, Badger video and recent Toyota ads. Bucky has become a fan favorite throughout the nation and in 2006 was inducted in to the Mascot Hall of Fame as a charter member of the College Division, along with Aubie from Auburn and YoUDee from Delaware. Along with attending various sporting events and campus activities, Bucky is available for a host of other events where Bucky, from personal experience, stands on his head, polkas, does the Worm, and mingles with the attractive ladies in attendance. No uglies for Bucky! — Ben Goldsworthy
CAL STATE FULLERTON TITANS
1. Remember the Titans. Thirty years ago the Titans advanced to the elite eight only to be bounced out of the 1978 field by the famed "triplets" of Arkansas (guards Sidney Moncrief , Marvin Delph and Ron Brewer) who were coached by Eddie Sutton (some 628 wins ago). Speaking of legends former CSF basketball star Greg Bunch was in attendance at the Big West conference finals to witness the Titans return to the Big Dance three decades after he lead them in their memorable debut.
2. Cut(ly) and Run. Senior forward Scott Cutley, who averages 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, was named Co-Big West Player of the Year. Cutley left Kent State after his sophomore season, and it must have seemed like forward thinking to his teammate, junior forward Marcus Crenshaw (8.9 ppg), who also left the Golden Flashes for Fullerton. The Titans starting backcourt of Josh Akognon (19.9 ppg) and Ray Reed (6.4 ppg) are also transfers from Washington State and Georgetown, respectively. It should be interesting to see how it all plays out considering all the starting player's ex-schools made it to the big dance, so there is a good chance they could face at least one of those ex-teams.
3. Name Dropping. The Titans have a player named Frank Robinson (no relation to the baseball star Hall of Famer); he averages 16.1 points and 1.3 steals per game. These Titans are giant killers; they slayed the Cal State Northridge Matadors, whose star player went by the name of Chitwood (a la Hoosiers fame). That isn't the only Hollywood connection; Fullerton's famous alumni include actor/director Kevin Costner (who played baseball for the perennial power) and big name roundball alums including former Sun/Laker Cedric Ceballos and former Spur Bruce Bowen. — Shane Igoe