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March 16, 2014
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Badgers are heading to their 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament after being selected to the field of 68 on Sunday night.
Wisconsin, a No. 2 seed in the West region of the bracket, will play No. 15 American University in the second round of the tournament. The game will be held at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Thursday, March 20.
"It's exciting to be playing close to home," Josh Gasser said. "It means you did something well."
This is the second time in program history the Badgers have been a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin is 6-1 under Bo Ryan in its opening game when ranked No. 5 or higher.
The only common opponent between the Badgers and the Eagles is Ohio State. The Buckeyes beat the Eagles, 63-52, in November and the Badgers, 59-58, in February.
"I knew we'd have a tough matchup," said AU first-year head coach Mike Brennan, who was the Patriot League Coach of the Year. "I have a lot of respect for Coach (Bo) Ryan and his team is always very disciplined at both ends of the floor.
"Our team has been a great group to coach all year. "We had great leadership from day one and we've been one of the hardest-working teams I've been around."
The Eagles rank seventh in the nation in field goal percentage at 49.5 percent, but average just 63.9 points per game (316th in the country) and 30.1 rebounds per game (339th).
If the Badgers get by the Eagles of American, they will take on the winner of No. 7 Oregon and No. 10 BYU. That third round matchup would be held in Milwaukee on Saturday, March 22.
For now, the Badgers are not looking past American.
"American is the only thing on our minds," Gasser said, "And it should be."
The other second round matchups in the West region of the bracket involve No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 16 Webber State, No. 3 Creighton vs. No. 14 UL-Lafayette, No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 13 New Mexico State, No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 North Dakota State, No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 11 Nebraska, No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 BYU and No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State.
The Badgers have now qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of Ryan's 13 seasons in Madison, posting a 16-12 record over that span. Among Big Ten teams, only Michigan State (23) has more NCAA Tournament wins since 2001-02. Wisconsin has won at least one game in 10 of their 12 previous NCAA appearances under Ryan.
Wisconsin's 16th consecutive appearance in the tournament is tied with Gonzaga for the longest active streak in the nation. Kansas (25), Duke (19) and Michigan State (17) are owners of the three longest such streaks.
Wisconsin has advanced to the Sweet 16 in two of the last three seasons and three of the last six. Only Kansas (5), Michigan State (5), Duke (4), Louisville (4), North Carolina (4), Ohio State (4) and Syracuse (4) have been to more Sweet 16s than Wisconsin over the past six seasons.
The West region Sweet 16 will take place in Anaheim, Calif.
No. 1 Florida, winners of a school record 26 straight games, was awarded the top overall seed of the tournament. The Gators, whom the Badgers defeated 59-53 in an early season matchup at the Kohl Center, are in the South region of the bracket.
"It's a brand new season," Gasser said, "So we have to keep looking forward."
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow Zack on Twitter.