Wisconsin Badgers a home court favorite in NCAA Tourney

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Last month, Badgers Coach Bo Ryan was asked about the possibility of his team coming to Milwaukee for the NCAA Tournament. "Milwaukee?" he said. "We haven't even played Indiana yet!" Now, Wisconsin is gearing up to play American on Thursday, March 20th at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee. It may not be the Kohl Center, but it's close!

The Badgers have the shortest drive of any of the teams playing in the Milwaukee portion of the NCAA Tournament.

In Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Badgers are a home court favorite.

"It just means that, you know, you did something special during the year to get rewarded to play closed to home, and it is great for my family. It is great for these guys' families to be semi-close, you know. Just to be able to experience the NCAA Tournament atmosphere is just, you know, awesome for my family and friends and you know, it is kind of home court advantage in a way, but at the same time, once the clock starts, once we get in between the lines, it is all about what we do. We control that," Badgers guard Josh Gasser said.

It could get loud inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center with lots of Badgers fans expected to turn out for the game Thursday.

"We just have to tune it out. You know, do the things that we've been doing when we've been playing together. Just focus on what we have to do. I'm sure there is going to be American fans there too," Eagles guard Darius Gardner said.

The Badgers will be working out of Marquette's locker room during their stay in Milwaukee.

"It's okay. It's actually nice. I was saying 'this is a nice locker room,'" a Badgers player told FOX6 News.

Back in 2004, the Badgers drew a Milwaukee assignment as well. They won their first game, but didn't get out of town -- losing to Pittsburgh on the weekend.

Thursday's game kicks off at 11:40 a.m.

Assuming the Badgers make a run in the Tourney, they could face teams they've already played in the regular season -- including #1 seeds they've already beaten.

"I think our schedule as a whole was kinda a brutal one for us this year, but I think we went through it well and we grew up well. All the stuff you do throughout the season prepares your for the next day and the next opponent and I think, you know, our 37 games we had against tough competition has really prepared us for this NCAA Tournament, and I think that we're ready," Badgers forward Sam Dekker said.

"Teams are different now in terms of they have gotten better since we've played them. There's so many different types of teams, so we've just got to take what we learned from that and implement it into our game now," Badgers guard Traevon Jackson said.

"We played in the grueling season with Big Ten, you know, playing road games in Michigan and other teams -- I could go on and on, and they challenged us with a tough non-conference schedule. You definitely prepare for everything. It's a brand new season, so all that stuff, you know, we learned from it, but it's kind of a start over or a refresher now," Badgers guard Josh Gasser said.

The Big Ten teams are the ones that gave the Badgers the most trouble in the regular season. Badgers are 4-4 against conference teams in the Big Dance.