UW-Milwaukee Panthers depart for NCAA tourney in Buffalo

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers basketball team departed for Buffalo, New York on Tuesday morning, March 18th -- where they will play the first round in the NCAA tournament.

The Panthers loaded up a couple of coach buses outside of the Klotsche Center -- and headed down to Mitchell International Airport. UWM was expected to practice at Medaille College in Buffalo from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Milwaukee's return to the NCAA tournament is one of those rags-to-riches stories that seem to come up only in March.

The Panthers were picked last in the Horizon League preseason poll. Leading scorer Jordan Aaron was suspended late in the year. They lost to the last-place team in the league on Milwaukee's Senior Night.

The Panthers (21-13) still finished on top. Back from his suspension for violating team rules, Aaron helped lead the way in the run through the Horizon League tournament to get a No. 15 seed and a date Thursday with No. 2 seed Villanova in Buffalo.

Coach Rob Jeter says the Panthers rallied around the return of Aaron and fed off the energy of the 5-foot-10 guard and sophomore forward Matt Tiby.