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Badgers touch down in Tampa

Travel Day Photo Gallery

It's officially bowl week!

A day that began for the Badgers at 9 a.m. with some light conditioning and a quick lift at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, ended with a terrific Outback Steakhouse Team Dinner in Tampa at around 7 p.m.

Returning from a brief 72-hour break for the Christmas holiday, the Badgers began filing into the locker room at the McClain Center around 7:30 a.m. By the time 9 a.m. rolled around, the players were shaking out the cobwebs with some light running and lifting. At 10:30 a.m., the buses rolled, heading to Dane County Regional Airport.

Despite a little bit of a delay that resulted in some added time in the Madison airport, UW's plane touched down at Tampa International Airport at 5 p.m. As you can see from the photo gallery, some of the upperclassmen were able to ride in style, taking advantage of the many amenities afforded on the Boeing 747-40.

Because of the delay, the Badgers wasted little time, heading right from the airport to the A La Carte Event Pavilion for the Outback Bowl Welcome Dinner. Between the Badgers and their Outback Bowl opponent, the Auburn Tigers, the two teams combined to eat almost 5,000 pounds of Outback Steakhouse food. That included 750 pounds of sirloin steak, 750 pounds of chicken and 900 pounds of ribs. Also consumed were almost 400 pounds of Steakhouse Potatoes, 1,600 coconut shrimp and, of course, 160 bloomin' onions. Needless to say, no one went home hungry.

With dinner ending around 7 p.m., the Badgers were finally able to check in to their hotel, the Westin Harbour Island, at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday will bring the Badgers' first practice, followed by a visit to the children's wing of Tampa General Hospital.

Be sure to follow the Outback Bowl 2015 blog for all the happenings in Tampa. Also be sure to check out BOWL CENTRAL, especially those Badger fans heading to Florida for the game.

Your home away from home in Tampa

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Badger fans traveling to Tampa for the Outback Bowl are invited to utilize a service provided by Wisconsin Athletics to make your bowl trip a more pleasant experience.

The Wisconsin Athletics Bowl Central Fan Information Center is your home for answers to many questions that may arise during your bowl experience. The Fan Information Center will have the latest schedules and updates about fan events including UW Band performances.

While the Wisconsin Athletic Ticket Office is the primary source for ticket-related information, the Bowl Central Fan Information Center will serve as a secondary outlet for those with ticket-related questions.

The Bowl Central Fan Information Center will be located at the Westin Harbour Island Hotel. Fans are invited to stop by during our office hours for answers to your questions as well as the latest news and updates regarding bowl events.

Fans may call anytime for recorded news and updates. In addition, Email and text messaging can also be used to get answers. The latest updates will also be posted at BOWL CENTRAL.

Bowl Central Fan Information Center - a service of Wisconsin Athletics

Office Hours:

Tuesday, Dec. 30: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 31: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Located at:
Westin Harbour Island Hotel
725 South Harbour Island Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33602

Phone or Text Message: 608-520-1010 Email: uwbowlcentral@athletics.wisc.edu

General Visitor Information from Visit Tampa Bay:
(813) 223-1111 or (800) 44-TAMPA

Wisconsin Athletic Ticket Office Hours in Tampa Bay

Office Hours:
Wednesday, Dec. 31: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Located at:
Westin Harbour Island Hotel
725 South Harbour Island Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33602

Gameday Will Call - Thursday, Jan. 1
Raymond James Stadium - Gate D
10:30 a.m. - Halftime

*Times listed are eastern

Heading to Tampa?

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Are you among the thousands of Badgers fans heading to Tampa for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1? Then we've got some great info for you.

Badger fans from across the nation are invited to several fan events in conjunction with the 2015 Outback Bowl.

Clearwater Beach Day
Tuesday, Dec. 30 - 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Hilton Clearwater Beach
400 Mandalay Avenue
Clearwater Beach, Florida
Tickets: FREE, no ticket required
Join the teams, their marching bands and cheerleaders as they enjoy the sun and beaches at the Hilton Clearwater Beach next to Pier 60. This fun day includes live music, skydivers, a tug-of-war and other contests, plus plenty of food and festivities.

Wisconsin Outback Bowl Pep Rally
Tuesday, Dec. 30 - 6 p.m.
Channelside Bay Plaza
615 Channelside Drive
Tickets: FREE, no ticket required
Get ready for the big game with the UW Band, Spirit Squad and of course, Bucky Badger. Show your Badger spirit at the official Outback Bowl Pep Rally.

Battle of the Bands at Busch Gardens
Wednesday, Dec. 31 - TBD
Busch Gardens
10165 N. McKinley Drive
Tickets:Numerous ticket packages available at buschgardens.com
Enjoy a performance by the UW Band, UW Spirit Squad and Bucky Badger as they compete against the Auburn Band and Spirit Squad. Following the performance, stick around and enjoy the many attractions at Busch Gardens.

New Year's Eve Parade and Band Blast
Wednesday, Dec. 31 - 5:30-8 p.m.
Seventh Avenue - Ybor City
Tickets: FREE, no ticket required
The parade will feature floats and fifteen marching bands including the UW Marching Band. A "Battle of the Bands" between Wisconsin and Auburn will follow the parade.

Badger Huddle at the Outback Bowl
Thursday, Jan. 1 - 9-11:30 a.m.
Location: Outback Bowl Corporate Village -- Look for the WAA tent
Across the street (Dale Mabry Hwy) from Raymond James Stadium in the soccer fields at Hillsborough Community College
Before the Outback Bowl kicks off, get your kicks at the official Wisconsin pre-game party.

Times are EASTERN. Dates, times and locations of events are subject to change without notice.

Badger fans headed to Tampa are encouraged to visit BOWL CENTRAL for the latest updates on fan events associated with the Outback Bowl.

Badgers break for the holidays

Head coach Barry Alvarez (we get to use that term for about another week) and the Badger football team held its last practice in Madison on Tuesday morning. UW practiced for about an hour and 15 minutes inside the McClain Center before the travel squad did some conditioning. The team then exchanged holiday greetings and departed on a mini three-day break before reconvening in Madison on Friday morning.

"We're trying to get them healthy right now but I've been pleased with how they practiced," Alvarez said. "It's fun for me overseeing it. It's humbling when the kids ask you to do it, they want you out here. That's why we all do it ... because of our student-athletes."

There is an interesting dynamic for Alvarez this time around that he hasn't been faced with in his Hall of Fame career; coaching his grandson. Redshirt freshman safety Joe Ferguson is a contributor on special teams and in some sub packages on defense for the Badgers.

"Joe doesn't want anyone to know I'm his grandfather," Alvarez joked. "And I respect that. But it's kind of fun."

Alvarez also told a story of the family having Christmas dinner the other night and Joe calling him "coach" for the first time.

"I thought that was pretty cool, "Alvarez said.

Ferguson, a Madison native, won't have to travel far now that the Badgers have a couple days off. But there are a number of players taking advantage of the time off to get home for the first time since fall camp started in early August.

Sophomore cornerback Sojourn Shelton is one of a handful of players from Florida taking advantage of the opportunity to fly home and then meet the team in Tampa on Dec. 26. Shelton hails from Ft. Lauderdale, about a four-hour drive from Tampa.

Junior fullback Derek Watt's family lives less than an hour from Madison but he was one of the players scurrying to the airport after practice. He had to catch a flight to Houston where his brother, J.J. (you may have heard of him), was hosting the Watt family Christmas. Thankfully he and backfield mate Corey Clement were able to make it to their gates on time.

UW also packed the equipment truck Tuesday as it was scheduled to begin its journey to Tampa in the afternoon. The team is scheduled to depart Madison on Friday at 11:30 a.m. CT and arrive in Florida at 3:30 p.m. ET. Friday's first activity is the Outback Steakhouse Team Welcome Dinner. Bloomin' Onions for all!

Be sure to follow along with our Outback Bowl 2015 blog for all the news and inside info as the Badgers prepare to take on Auburn on Jan. 1.

Student-athletes shine at Buckinghams

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-- Buckinghams Photo Gallery

Anyone who attends the Buckinghams, the "Student-Athlete Annual Showcase of Excellence," has come to expect the unexpected. Student-athletes who excel on the field will surprise you with varied talents, whether it's playing the piano, singing and opera or twirling a rifle. All of those things happened Monday night at the sixth annual event.

However, one moment stole the show and provided a great cap to an incredible evening. The final performer of the evening was Brett Hochstaetter, a redshirt sophomore on the wrestling team. He began his rendition of Brett Eldredge's 'Mean to Me' by saying, "This is for someone special in the crowd."

That drew a response from the 650 people in attendance at the Overture Center, but not quite as large as the one he elicited after he put his guitar down and addressed his girlfriend, Erica, on stage. "I'd like to, in front of my family, my brothers and coaches on the wrestling team and all my fellow Badgers," was how Hochstaetter started. He then dropped to one knee and proposed. As Erica nodded yes, the crowd erupted, collectively standing on its feet and applauding.

It's the kind of thing that you can only see at the Buckinghams. The night began with Vitto Brown, an accomplished singer on the men's basketball team, and three of his teammates performing 'La, La, Means I Love You' by the Delfonics. Other performances included a salsa/samba dance by Lavinia Jurkiewicz of women's cross country, a musical medley from quarterback Joel Stave and his brother, Bryan (with some help from Jake Keefer) and William Ottow from men's cross country performing 'Oh Is There Not One Maiden Breast' from Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Pirates of Penzance' (it's an opera, Google it).

In between the incredible performances, a number of Badgers were honored for their performance in the classroom and in the community. A complete list of award winners is below. Among the impressive accomplishments: 260 student-athletes were recognized as 3.5 GPA award winners with three of those, Nicholas Caldwell (men's swimming), Taylor Zimprich (women's cross country) and Kimberly Dinh (women's golf) holding down perfect 4.0 cumulative GPAs. The teams with the highest cume GPAs were women's cross country and men's tennis.

The women's rowing and football teams were honored as the "Badger Challenge" winners. Those awards went to the men's and women's teams that exemplify commitment to developing the whole student-athlete. "Badger Challenge" components include academic achievement, athletic achievement, personal enhancement, on-campus learning, community outreach and SAAC and SAESO participation. Between the women's rowing and football teams, those student-athletes combined for more than 3,200 community service hours.

Individually, linebacker Chris Borland and women's hockey goalie Alex Rigsby were named male and female Buckinghams Student-Athletes of the Year as voted on by their peers. Both were multiple-time All-Americans who also excelled away from athletics. Borland graduated last December while Rigsby, a two-time Academic All-WCHA selection, is on pace to graduate this December. Borland led all UW student-athletes with an astonishing 125 hours of community service and Rigsby's 23 placed her near the top.

The night was a celebration of the true student-athlete and showed off many talents.  And for one couple, it was literally a life-changing event.

2012-13 Remington Scholars (Highest cume GPA who complete their eligibility, graduating letterwinner)
Megan Beers (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field)
Cody Rissman (Men's Rowing)
2014 Athletic Board Scholars (Highest cume GPA for previous year, above sophomore standing, letterwinner, non grad student)
Zachary Showalter (Men's Basketball)
Michael Brice (Men's Cross Country)
Michael Trotter (Football)
Robert Jacobsen (Men's Golf)
Adam Miller (Men's Hockey)
Kyle Anderson (Men's Rowing)
Adam Lauko (Men's Soccer)
Drew Teduits (Men's Swimming & Diving)
Oskar Wikberg (Men's Tennis)
Reed Connor (Men's Track & Field)
Connor Medbery (Wrestling)
AnnMarie Brown (Women's Basketball)
Dana Steffen (Women's Cross Country)
Kimberly Dinh (Women's Golf)
Kathryn Josephs (Women's Hockey)
Nicole Hettmann (Women's Rowing)
Alessandra Ruenger (Women's Lightweight Rowing)
Nicole La Petina (Women's Soccer)
Taylor Stewart (Softball)
Ivy Martin (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Lauren Chypyha (Women's Tennis)
Taylor Kirby (Women's Track & Field)
Crystal Graff (Volleyball)
Performance Awards (Nominated for their academic work and constant improvement)
Morgan Paige (Women's Basketball)
Madison Packer (Women's Hockey)
Kelly Jaminski (Women's Hockey)
Genevieve Richard (Women's Soccer)
Yolanda Hayes-Barnes (Women's Track & Field)
Deme Morales (Volleyball)
Evan Anderson (Men's Basketball)
Duje Dukan (Men's Basketball)
Michael Caputo (Football)
Kenzel Doe (Football)
Robert Jacobsen (Men's Golf)
Sean Little (Men's Hockey)
Tyler Graff (Wrestling)
President's Award (SAAC & SAESO Presidents honored for their leadership)
Abbie Weigel (Women's Track & Cross Country)
Kodee Williams (Women's Soccer)
Academic Momentum (To recognize student-athletes who have demonstrated significant academic improvement throughout their collegiate careers and celebrate them for having the ability to balance textbooks with playbooks)
Mohammed Ahmed (Men's Track & Cross Country)
4.0 Recognition Award
Nicholas Caldwell (Men's Swimming)
Taylor Zimprich (Women's Cross Country)
Kimberly Dinh (Women's Golf)
Impact Award (Highest number of community service hours per team)
Duje Dukan (Men's Basketball)
Drew Shields (Men's Cross Country)
Chris Borland (Football)
Thomas O'Bryan (Men's Golf)
Jake McCabe (Men's Hockey)
Beau Batty (Men's Rowing)
Nick Janus (Men's Soccer)
Alexander DeLakis (Men's Swimming & Diving)
John Zordani (Men's Tennis)
Sawyer Smith (Men's Track & Field)
Connor Medbery (Wrestling)
Michala Johnson (Women's Basketball)
Taylor Zimprich (Women's Cross Country)
Kimberly Dinh (Women's Golf)
Ilana Friedman (Women's Hockey)
Kelsey Kramer (Women's Rowing)
Kodee Williams (Women's Soccer)
Taylor Berry (Softball)
Katie Delaney (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Lauren Chypyha (Women's Tennis)
Erin Rosewicz (Women's Track & Field)
Julie Mikaelsen (Volleyball)
Unsung Hero Award Nominees (Displays hard work, positive attitude and determination in athletics, the classroom, as well as the community)
Josh Gasser (Men's Basketball)
Jacob Naylor (Men's Cross Country)
Michael Caputo (Football)
John Gullberg (Men's Golf)
Joe Faust (Men's Hockey)
Jonathan Smaglick (Men's Rowing)
Jameson Kronser (Men's Soccer)
Nick Caldwell (Men's Swimming & Diving)
Oskar Wikberg (Men's Tennis)
Tyler Woloszyk (Men's Track & Field)
Cole Tobin (Wrestling)
AnnMarie Brown (Women's Basketball)
Erin Cawley (Women's Cross Country)
Kris Yoo (Women's Golf)
Kelly Jaminski (Women's Hockey)
Charlotte Keleske (Women's Rowing)
Mackenzie Whiteside (Women's Lightweight Rowing)
Genevieve Richard (Women's Soccer)
Michelle Mueller (Softball)
Aja Van Hout (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Rebecca Bailey (Women's Tennis)
Brianna Bower (Women's Track & Field)
Dominique Thompson (Volleyball)
Unsung Hero Award Winners
Jonathan Smaglick (Men's Rowing)
Genevieve Richard (Women's Soccer)
Chi Alpha Sigma (National Student-Athlete Honor Society)
Beau Batty (Men's Rowing)
William Bleifuss (Men's Rowing)
Travis Breunig (Men's Rowing)
Charles Clapp IV (Men's Rowing)
Logan Hietpas (Men's Rowing)
Marcus Trotter (Football)
Dan Voltz (Football)
Jacob Brindle (Men's Soccer)
Michael Sinha (Men's Tennis)
Andrew Brekke (Men's Track & Field)
Reed Connor (Men's Track & Field)
William Ottow (Men's Track & Field)
Brett Hochstaetter (Wrestling)
Conor Medbery (Wrestling)
AnnMarie Brown (Women's Basketball)
Rachel Gendreau (Women's Rowing)
Nicole Hettmann (Women's Rowing)
Kristine Kammers (Women's Rowing)
Gretchen Miron (Women's Rowing)
Brianna Murphy (Women's Rowing)
Paige Resch (Women's Rowing)
Alessandra Ruenger (Women's Rowing)
Elizabeth Schoenfeldt (Women's Rowing)
Gabrielle Anzalone (Women's Cross Country)
Anne Gregory (Women's Cross Country)
Rachel McNally (Women's Cross Country)
Erin Rosewicz (Women's Cross Country)
Elizabeth Sequin (Women's Cross Country)
Dana Steffen (Women's Cross Country)
Rebecca Stoebe (Women's Cross Country)
Abby Busler (Women's Golf)
Kathryn Josephs (Women's Hockey)
Jaclyn Gellings (Women's Soccer)
Megan Tancill (Softball)
Maria Van Abel (Softball)
Ivy Martin (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Rebecka Palm (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Brianna Bower (Women's Track & Field)
Taylor Kirby (Women's Track & Field
Katelyn Malcore (Women's Track & Field)
Emmon Rogers (Women's Track & Field)
Marissa Savitch (Women's Track & Field)
Abbie Weigel (Women's Track & Field)
Team Impact Award
(Greatest number of community service hours divided by the number of student-athletes on the roster)
Women's Golf   
Team Highest Cumulative GPA Award
Women's Cross Country   
Men's Tennis   
Badger Challenge winners (teams that exemplify commitment to developing the whole student-athlete)
Women's Rowing   
Buckinghams Student-Athlete of the Year Nominees
(Nominees are all the SAAC student-athletes of the month winners)
Josh Gasser (Men's Basketball)
Michael Van Voorhis (Men's Cross Country)
Chris Borland (Football)
Rob Jacobsen (Men's Golf)
Michael Mersch (Men's Hockey)
Logan Hietpas (Men's Rowing)
Nick Janus (Men's Soccer)
Drew TeDuits (Men's Swimming & Diving)
Elliot Sprecher (Men's Tennis)
Michael Lihrman (Men's Track & Field)
Connor Medbury (Wrestling)
Morgan Paige (Women's Basketball)
Anne Gregory (Women's Cross Country)
Kimberly Dinh (Women's Golf)
Alex Rigsby (Women's Hockey)
Pam Schommer (Women's Rowing)
Briana Murphy (Women's Lightweight Rowing)
McKenna Meuer (Women's Soccer)
Maria Van Abel (Softball)
Ivy Martin (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Lauren Chypyha (Women's Tennis)
Deanna Latham (Women's Track & Field)
Crystal Graff (Volleyball)
Buckinghams Student-Athlete of the Year Winners

Chris Borland (Football)
Alex Rigsby (Women's Hockey)

Badgers preview Sweet 16 matchup with Baylor

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Wednesday was the Badgers' introduction to the Honda Center, the site of UW's Sweet 16 game vs. Baylor on Thursday night. But before they got to step on the court, the players and coaching staff met with the media to talk about the matchup with Baylor. The complete transcript from the podium sessions with Coach Ryan, Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson can be found here.

In addition, here are some quotes from the Badgers' open locker room:

Sam Dekker on defending Baylor's big men: "Me and Frank [Kaminsky] will probably have to share the duties inside on those two early on. It doesn't matter who we have [to defend] as long as we are physical. We need to out-tough them. We can't play weaker on those guys, otherwise they will eat you alive."

Josh Gasser on Baylor's strong play in March: "They are playing really well right now. You have to come out with a lot of energy and match their intensity. It will be a physical game with their bigs down low. We have to come out right from the start."

Bronson Koenig on breaking down Baylor film: "Obviously we saw a lot of length and athleticism out of them. They are quick in closing out on the shooters in their zone."

Also check out our complete photo gallery of the Badgers' day at the Honda Center.

Head west, young men!

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That tweet says it all! 9 a.m. CT departure led to an 11:15 PT arrival in Los Angeles International Airport. On the way to the hotel and then a 4 p.m. practice at Cal State Fullerton to begin getting acclimated with the west coast time zone and shake out the travel weary legs. Rumor is the hotel is relatively close to Disneyland. Stay tuned for any surprise appearances.

22-5 run sparks Badgers to halftime lead

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The partisan Bradley Center crowd was getting a little antsy about midway through the first half but a Ben Brust 3-pointer ignited a 22-5 run over the final 9:17 to give Wisconsin a 32-22 lead heading into halftime.

The Badgers started the half hot offensively, going inside to Frank Kaminsky for their first three buckets of the game. A dunk by Sam Dekker gave the Badgers a 10-5 lead but then UW went cold, missing its next seven shots. During that time American went on a 12-0 run until Brust halted it with Wisconsin's first 3-pointer of the game, at the 9:17 mark. From that point until the end of the half, American scored just five points, going 1-7 from the field with four turnovers.

After a hot start, Kaminsky picked up his second foul with 4:44 left in the half. Undaunted, the Badgers outscored the Eagles 12-4 the rest of the way.

At the half, Brust leads all scorers with 11 points, Jackson has seven and Kaminsky has six. Guard John Shoof started hot for American and led the Eagles with eight points.

Despite missing seven in a row at one point, UW finished 11-of-26 (.423) from the field and made all seven of its free throw attempts. American was 8-of-18 (.444) from the field, 3-of-4 from the free throw line and committed eight turnovers.

Overheard at Badgers media day

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Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, Frank Kaminsky and head coach Bo Ryan met with the media on Wednesday in advance of the Badgers' game Thursday morning against American. The complete transcript from their sessions can be found here: ASAP Sports.

Here are some of the highlights:

Josh Gasser on playing in Milwaukee: "It's awesome. It just means that you did something special during the year to get rewarded to play close to home. And it's great for my family, these guy's family, to be semi close. Just to be able to experience NCAA Tournament atmosphere is awesome for my family and friends and other people as well. It's kind of a home-court advantage in a way, but, at the same time, once the clock starts, once you get between the lines, it's all what we do and we control that."

Frank Kaminsky on his high growth spurt in high school: "I got into high school at 6' 2" and left high school at 6' 10". I had a lot of growing to do both physically and mentally. Sometimes I would just be running down the court and trip over my own feet because I was just getting awkward. And I think just growing into my body took a little bit of time because I did kind of have a later growth spurt than most people."

Ben Brust on Coach Ryan winning 700 games and earning national respect:
"It's very special to be a part of that, and I think the number 700 just shows if you're getting that many wins, you're doing a lot of things right. As players we'd be smart to listen to a guy who has won that many games because he's successful for a reason. You don't get 700 wins with luck. He's doing something right, and, you know, Coach doesn't care what other people think. He's the type of guy who wants to get stuff done and get it done the right way, and we're just looking to continue what we can do."

Coach Ryan on his philosophy: "I always tell young coaches when they're asking for advice, 'take a job at a place where you can coach for five years or 50 years.' Because if you take a job and you're always looking left, right, behind you, in front of you, if you're always looking in different directions, you're not going to do as good a job with the people who believed you in the first place and hired you. So, if you're hired to do a job, for a nickel, give them a dime's worth. That's been my philosophy that I learned from my parents. I'm sure they learned from their parents."

Coach Ryan on Nigel Hayes' humor: "I got a guy that beats me, and old line is obviously 'the early bird catches the worm.' As we're done with our video session, Nigel always tries to beat me to the court. I said, "good, Nigel, the early bird catches the worm."
"Coach, the second mouse always gets the cheese."

Big crowds greet the Badgers in Milwaukee

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The day before the first game of the NCAA tournament has become sort of old hat for the Wisconsin Badgers. For 16 straight years, UW has been taking part in press conferences, open locker rooms and public practices. Today was a little different though.

-- Photo Gallery

With the Badgers stationed in Milwaukee, the fan and media interest is at an all-time high. As shown in the picture above, even the Marquette locker room wasn't quite spacious enough to contain all the media hoping to get a word with the Badgers. And what is normally just a handful of fans on on a weekday afternoon, turned into a couple hundred in the stands as the Badgers took the floor at 1:30 p.m.

The fans that did come out were treated to an inside look at pretty much what happens every day at a normal Badgers practice. Start off with some full court passing, then some shooting drills. The highlight, as always, was the half-court shooting contest to end practice. Bronson Koenig made the first, Evan Anderson tied it up and Zak Showalter won it at the end. A Sam Dekker dunk sent the crowd home happy. Thanks to everyone who came out today!