The question is not whether area basketball fanatics will be checking out from the real world this week, it's what matchup they're most eagerly anticipating as tournament season at all levels cranks up for real. Of all the options available, Wisconsin's first-round NCAA tournament game against Montana (Thursday, March 15, 1:10 p.m., TNT) might be the least intriguing.
At the same time the Badgers tip off in New Mexico, UW recruit Sam Dekker leads Sheboygan Area Lutheran in the Division 5 semifinal (WKOW) in the state high school tournament at the Kohl Center. Badger fans are hoping Dekker, the state's leading scorer with over 32 points per game, can help ignite an often-stagnant Wisconsin offense when he comes to Madison next year.
Hoop heads hoping to watch UW-Whitewater play Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday at 7 p.m. in the NCAA Division III final four will have to tune in online at ncaa.com, but a local connection makes the hassle worthwhile. The Warhawks are led by Madison East grad and WIAC player of the year Chris Davis, an improbable star after nearly dropping out of high school and getting kicked off the MATC squad for fighting.
But the marquee game of the weekend promises to be the high school Division 1 semifinal on Friday night at 6:35 (WKOW) between defending champ Madison Memorial and undefeated Germantown. The top-ranked Warhawks feature a pair of Division I college prospects in Wisconsin-bound Zak Showalter and Indiana recruit Luke Fischer. But the hometown Spartans return plenty of experienced veterans led by junior point guard Brendan Ortiz, who hit two clutch shots in last year's triple-overtime championship game.
"I think we're the underdog," says Memorial coach Steve Collins, whose team is at the Kohl Center for the ninth straight year. "And we're not often the underdog."