SPOKANE, Washington (Ticker) -- No. 5 Wisconsin makes its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance Thursday at the Spokane Arena when it faces upset-minded 12th seed Weber State in the first round of the Midwest Region.
Wisconsin (22-7) earned another trip to the NCAAs by capturing its second straight Big Ten Conference regular-season title. Despite losing to Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, the Badgers have won 12 of their last 15 games.
Badgers guard Kirk Penney is the lone holdover from Wisconsin's Final Four team from 2000. He averages 16.3 points to lead a balanced attack that features four starters averaging in double figures and a fifth, Mike Wilkinson, chipping in 9.7 points per game.
Wisconsin is 5-3 over the last three years in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round last season. The Badgers defeated St. John's in the first round before falling to eventual champion Maryland.
Weber State (26-5) owns the nation's second-longest winning streak at 17 games and features explosive guard Jermaine Boyette, the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year. The Wildcats were one of three teams - along with Kentucky and Pennsylvania - to go unbeaten in league play.
Boyette is averaging 20.1 points per game and poured in 29 on 11-of-18 shooting in the Big Sky championship game, a 60-57 victory over Eastern Washington. Nic Sparrow added 12 points for the Wildcats.
This is Weber State's first NCAA appearance since its memorable trip in 1999, when a team led by Harold Arceneaux upset North Carolina before losing in overtime to Florida in the second round. The Wildcats have posted first-round wins in their last two NCAA Tournaments.
Wisconsin faced one Big Sky opponent on November 15 and cruised to an 81-55 rout of Eastern Washington.
Weber State posted a 73-69 victory over Wisconsin last season in the Big Island Basketball Invitational in the only meeting between the schools. Boyette scored 20 points and John Hamilton added 12 for the Wildcats.
The Badgers were a miserable 6-of-24 from beyond the arc and Penney scored four points on 1-of-10 shooting.