Wisconsin fans arrived as early as noon to get a good seat in the Sett at Union South to watch the Final Four matchup between the Badgers and Kentucky Wildcats. By tipoff time at 8 p.m. the place was packed.
With every chair full, other students and alumni stood to watch the game on the big screen projecting the game over the stage, or on one of the televisions scattered throughout the Sett and the rest of the building, including upstairs meeting rooms. Every cable box in Union South was tuned into the game.
But the elation and applause turned to cries of disbelief when in the final minute of the game Kentucky scored to top the Badgers 74-73.
"I mean it's a heartbreaker for everyone, honestly," says Josh Smith, who watched the game with friends at the Sett. "It was pretty much a no-doubter. We thought we were gonna win this game."
The game was close, with Wisconsin leading at halftime. Ben Brust and Sam Dekker led the team in points, scoring 15 each. The Badgers made 19 of their 20 free throws, with Traevon Jackson missing one of three attempts in the final seconds of the game.
A senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Smith says he is a huge Badger fan who traveled to Madison just for the game, waiting at the Sett for three hours before tip-off.
Despite the Badgers loss, Smith says it was fun to watch the game. "[The] Final Four is amazing."
After the game, a modest group crowded the 500 and 600 blocks of State Street near the UW-Madison campus, sporadically calling out cheers supporting the Badgers or mildly insulting Kentucky. But even in the busiest spots, the crowd was nothing like the shoulder-to-shoulder mass of students that turned out after last week's victory.
Four officers with the Madison Police mounted unit patrolled the street, and groups of officers stood at intervals throughout. Occasionally, they had to stop someone from climbing a tree, but many officers spent time talking to students or taking photos with them.
The street was completely cleared out and back to normal shortly after midnight, said Madison Police Department spokesperson Joel DeSpain.
He said about a dozen people had been arrested or ticketed for such violations as disorderly conduct and open intoxicants. One man jumped off a wooden structure in a construction area on State and Frances Streets, and someone attempted to set a t-shirt on fire.
DeSpain also said there were no significant injuries, though someone was taken to the hospital with a cut to the head after being hit with what police believed to be a beer can.