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Polzin: What I like and don’t like about Wisconsin basketball’s March Madness path

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Polzin: What I like and don’t like about Wisconsin basketball’s March Madness path


MINNEAPOLIS — There are bad losses, but the one Sunday afternoon at the doesn’t fit in that category for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team.

The Badgers won three games in four days at the Big Ten tournament. There were even plenty of encouraging signs in the lone defeat, a 93-87 setback against Illinois with the title on the line at the Target Center.

“We’re leaving here today a much better team than when we came in on Wednesday,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said.

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Gard is right. Performances against Rutgers and Purdue during the final week of the regular season provided hints that the Badgers were trending back in the right direction following a horrific stretch in which they lost seven times in nine games.

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These past four days confirmed that Wisconsin had indeed turned a corner just in time for the start of the NCAA Tournament.

The Badgers (22-13) earned a No. 5 seed in the South Region and will open against James Madison (31-3) at 8:40 p.m. Friday in Brooklyn, New York. Duke, which broke Wisconsin’s hearts in the 2015 NCAA final, could be waiting in the second round.

Here’s my take on the draw for Gard’s team:

What I like

Wisconsin earning a No. 5 seed is fair.

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It’s hard to say if an overtime win over top-seeded Purdue caused the selection committee to move Wisconsin from the 6 line to the 5 line, but that’s a fair assumption. Anything worse than a 6 would have been shocking, as would anything better than a 5.

Wisconsin is the No. 19 overall seed. For as much as fans dwell on the Associated Press Top 25 rankings, what that means is the committee thought the Badgers have a top-20 resume.

And I agree with that assessment. Wisconsin played a tough schedule and had a respectable 14-13 record in Quad 1 and 2 games.

• A quick turnaround from an exhausting conference tournament run to a first-round NCAA Tournament game on Thursday would have been brutal. But the Badgers avoided that by being sent to Brooklyn.

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Make no mistake, Wisconsin is banged up. The list of injured players starts with John Blackwell, Chucky Hepburn, Max Klesmit and Tyler Wahl. That’s four of the top six players in the Badgers’ rotation.

That extra day of rest is crucial.

“Everybody needs it,” Gard said. “We just played four games in four days. Even I need it.”

• There’s also something to be said for having too much rest. While an extra day off is good for the Badgers, I think it’s important that they’re riding a wave of momentum right now and probably want to get on the court as soon as possible.

James Madison won the Sun Belt Tournament on March 11, meaning the Dukes will have 11 days between games. That seems like a lot to me.

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“These guys want to play,” Gard said. “There’s nobody complaining about being banged up or anything. They were ready to go.”

• There are some big names in the South Region.

Duke and Kentucky are blue bloods. Houston, the No. 1 seed, has become a perennial contender under Kelvin Sampson.

Wahl’s eyes went right to Marquette at the bottom of Wisconsin’s portion of the bracket. A Badgers-Golden Eagles rematch in the Elite Eight would be fun even if that seems like a pipe dream right now.

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“You don’t know who you’re going to play,” Wahl said, “but I think a really good team is going to come out of our side.”

What I don’t like

I don’t hate the Badgers’ first-round draw. But I don’t love it, either.

It took CBS analyst Seth Davis about two seconds to pick James Madison over Wisconsin in a 12-5 upset. I’m guessing that will be a popular opinion the next couple of days.

The Dukes are experienced and can put a lot of points on the board. They’re red-hot right now, too: James Madison’s 13-game winning streak is the longest in the nation.

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James Madison guard Noah Freidel (1) is pressured by Southern Mississippi guard Donovan Ivory (15) as he dribbles along the baseline during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Hattiesburg, Miss. Southern Mississippi won 81-71. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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Are the Dukes battle tested? Sort of. They opened the season with an overtime win at Michigan State, but Wisconsin won handily at the Breslin Center a month later.

James Madison only played a combined three games in Quad 1 and Quad 2. Twenty-two of its wins came in Quad 4 and another win — vs. Keystone College — doesn’t even count in the NCAA Net Rankings.

It’s a scary first-round opponent for the Badgers, but it’s not as bad as the one they drew as a No. 5 seed in 2019. Oregon was the No. 12 seed in that matchup and was coming off a run to the Pac-12 Tournament title.

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• I don’t have to tell you that Wisconsin’s defense has been awful at times this season.

It was again Sunday, when Illinois averaged 1.37 points per possession. That number after halftime was a whopping 1.58, with Terrence Shannon Jr. and Marcus Domask scoring at will against the Badgers.

Wisconsin has the offensive punch to make a run to the Final Four. But I don’t trust its defense to get stops when needed.

This region includes two of the top 10 offenses in the nation — Kentucky is at No. 5 in adjusted offensive efficiency while Duke is at No. 7 — and James Madison averages 84.4 points per game.

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The Badgers played well on defense against Maryland and Northwestern this week. They had good moments on that end of the court vs. Purdue, too, at least when they weren’t getting called for fouls.

They still need to buckle down and stop opponents from getting such easy access to the rim. That could be the difference between Wisconsin’s season ending at the Barclays Center or continuing to Dallas next week.

My pick

The Badgers were upbeat following the loss to Illinois.

“I like where we’re sitting right now,” Klesmit said. “I’m proud of the all the dudes in here and how we responded when stuff kind of hit the fan earlier in February.”

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The vibes with this team feel good right now. Hepburn had a great Big Ten Tournament, and AJ Storr and Steven Crowl were really good as well.

My bracket will include wins over James Madison and Duke before a loss to Houston in the Sweet 16.

Contact Jim Polzin at jpolzin@madison.com.

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Marshall and Wisconsin Football Announce 2028 Meeting In Madison

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Marshall and Wisconsin Football Announce 2028 Meeting In Madison


On Friday afternoon, Marshall University and the University of Wisconsin announced that the two football programs will meet in the 2028 season opener. The game is set for September 2, 2028, at Madison’s Camp Randall Stadium

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The two schools last met on the gridiron back in the 2008 season. Wisconsin won that game by a score of 51-14. That was the only previous meeting between the two teams.

“We are thrilled to make the trip to Madison with the Thundering Herd in 2028,” Marshall Director of Athletics Christian Spears said in a statement. “These games are awesome experiences for our fans and for our team. As always, we are looking to create some momentum and buzz heading into our SBC season, so we are really excited for this one.”

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A kickoff time and broadcast information for this game will be announced at a later date.





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Wisconsin Elections Commission rejects effort to recall Assembly Speaker Vos • Wisconsin Examiner

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Wisconsin Elections Commission rejects effort to recall Assembly Speaker Vos • Wisconsin Examiner


The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) voted 5-0, with one abstention, to reject the recall petition against Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) Thursday. After confusion over which district the recall petition signatures should come from, the commission decided that the recall organizers did not have enough valid signatures from any of the districts that could have possibly been involved. 

Recall organizers began the effort to remove Vos, the longest-serving Assembly Speaker in state history, from office over complaints that he was not doing enough to advance their belief that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump and that the election officials involved in that election should be punished. The petition began after Vos refused to move forward with an effort to impeach WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe. 

The recall effort began as the state’s political maps were in limbo, however. In December, the state Supreme Court struck down the previous maps and Gov. Tony Evers signed new maps into law in February, but those maps don’t go into effect until the election this fall. 

With the previous maps declared unconstitutional and the new maps not yet in effect, it was unclear which district recall organizers should collect the required number of signatures. Old Assembly district 63 contains the voters that elected Vos in the first place, but it doesn’t technically exist any more. The new Assembly districts 33 and 66 contain some of those voters, but also many who did not put Vos into office. The WEC and state Department of Justice had sought clarification from the Supreme Court on which district should apply, but the Court declined to weigh in. 

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Last month, the recall organizers filed thousands of signatures as part of their recall petition, but those petitions included signatures from all three of the potential districts, as well as many others that appeared to be forged or from voters who didn’t live in any of the districts. While the legal questions surrounding the petition worked through the Court, the statutory deadlines of a recall effort continued. No matter what district was used, Commission staff determined there were not enough valid signatures to force a recall election this summer. 

On Thursday evening, the commission met to decide on Vos’ challenge to the validity of the petition signatures. Vos’ attorney, Matthew Fernholz, said the commission should take the easy option and reject the recall petition, while adding that there should be a formal investigation into the alleged forgeries in the petitions. 

“So based on the review of all the signatures, and the challenges that have been sustained, the easiest thing and most straightforward path for WEC today is simply to reject and deny the recall petition,” Fernholz said. “They’re woefully short, regardless of whether we’re operating under the old 63rd Assembly district or the new 33rd Assembly district.”

Commissioner Ann Jacobs told Fernholz that the body is statutorily prevented from initiating investigations, adding that if Vos would like an investigation completed, he needs to submit a complaint to the agency. 

The recall organizers were represented at the hearing by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Gableman was hired by Vos following the 2020 election to investigate allegations of fraud. After being allowed to continue his review for over a year without any results, Vos fired the former judge. Gableman has since turned on Vos, frequently appearing at anti-Vos events and supporting his 2022 primary opponent. 

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Gableman spent about 30 minutes arguing with commissioners and WEC staff over whether or not a staff member told the recall organizers that the signatures should come from the 63rd District. At one point in the argument, Jacobs asked for a point of order after Gableman started insulting the agency’s attorney. 

“Well, you managed to be arrogant, condescending and wrong in a matter of about 20,” Gableman said before Jacobs cut him off. 

Gableman also refused to say whether or not the recall petitioners had gathered enough signatures from any of the districts because he doesn’t “know the basis for all the removals of the signatures.” 

Twice, Gableman mentioned that the recall organizers had met with the FBI about potentially investigating the alleged forged signatures, and he discussed what the petitioners are calling “recall 2.0”— their second attempt at forcing a recall election. Much of the argument between Gableman and the commissioners centered around his request that they declare which district the signatures should come from and their refusal to do so because a request for an official advisory opinion from the commission has not been made. 

The Commission ultimately approved a motion that rejected the recall on the grounds that there weren’t enough signatures from the old 63rd or new 66th districts and that the new 33rd district should not be used. Commissioner Mark Thomsen abstained from the vote after arguing for an amendment to the motion to narrow it to include just the lack of valid signatures from the 63rd district.

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Can parents be held responsible for their childs’ gun violence in Wisconsin?

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Can parents be held responsible for their childs’ gun violence in Wisconsin?


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – In a significant legal development, the parents of school shooter Ethan Crumbley were both sentenced on four counts of involuntary manslaughter. The verdict, delivered on Tuesday, marks a potential shift in legal precedent regarding parental responsibility in cases of gun violence.

According to authorities, the parents’ culpability in the shooting stemmed not from direct involvement in the attack, but from their failure to prevent their son from accessing the firearms used in the assault. This case has sparked a broader discussion on gun access nationwide, including in Wisconsin, about what is needed to convict a parent.

“Causation in Wisconsin is defined as a substantial factor in bringing about a result,” John Gross, a Clinical Associate Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said. “The fact that the parents stored the gun in a way that allowed the child to access it would be viewed as a substantial factor in bringing about the ultimate harm.”

Wisconsin law sets a clear age threshold for parental responsibility when it comes to gun access, with obligations ceasing at age 14.

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Safe storage, as outlined by Gross, includes using trigger locks, locked containers, and/or gun safes. Failure to comply with these standards constitutes a crime under Wisconsin law, whether a minor gains access to the firearm or not.

“The crime is not storing it safely and it doesn’t matter whether a child ultimately is able to reach the gun. It’s if they could,” Gross said.

More than half of the states, including Wisconsin, have implemented laws aimed at promoting safe gun storage practices.

Gross emphasized the importance of these measures, stating, “It’s really important to store the guns properly just to avoid something that could be really horrific and tragic, and easily preventable.”

While the Crumbley case may set a precedent, Gross noted that it may not directly influence Wisconsin law due to distinct differences between Michigan law, where the case was tried, and Wisconsin law.

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