DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – The Madness is in full swing and a team from Wisconsin is right in the thick of things.
The No. 2 seeded Marquette Golden Eagles beat the Vermont Catamounts 78-61 to advance to the second round of the tournament. The No. 2 seed is the best seed the Golden Eagles have ever earned in team history. They had the best record in the Big East Conference during the regular season and won the conference tournament. They finished the season ranked No. 6 in the country in the AP poll.
Despite the early Friday afternoon start, fans filled Chicago Street Pub and Grill in De Pere to watch the game.
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“It’s not too stressful right away as long as you have a comfortable lead, but no lead is ever too big especially in the NCAA tournament,” said Marquette fan Jason Haglund.
Haglund said he didn’t attend Marquette University for school, but that he became a fan after watching Dwyane Wade play there in the early 2000s. He said it’s been a fun year especially since Marquette wasn’t projected to do as good as they ended up doing so far this season.
Haglund said that every year he uses work PTO to watch the first couple days of the NCAA tournament. He said he loves coming to Chicago Street Pub because it has a good atmosphere and the restaurant sponsors his recreational basketball and baseball teams.
Across the bar from him, Marquette fan Steven Jandt has converted one of his buddies who is a Wisconsin Badger fan into a Golden Eagle fan. At least for one game.
The Badgers failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament for just the second time since the turn of the century (doesn’t include the 2020 season when COVID-19 canceled the tournament). Wisconsin is playing in the NIT.
“We’re all Wisconsin people, we got to cheer for Marquette,” said Jandt. “The Badgers were kind of awful so Marquette is really our only chance in the state so we got to root for them and hope they pull something out.”
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Jandt said he has Marquette going all the way to the Final Four in his bracket. He said he’s happy they won in relatively stress-free fashion on Friday afternoon, but said he knows it’s only going to get tougher.
“You never know who is going to win these games so there’s always a chance that they can lose. But they’ve got a good squad and you’re always hopeful that they can go far,” said Jandt.
Marquette will play Michigan State on Sunday in the second round of the tournament.
“Besides the Super Bowl it’s (March Madness) probably number two on the list (for best sports events during the year),” said Haglund.