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Sunday, December 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 31.0° F  Light Snow Fog/Mist
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Wisconsin's home-state advantage in March Madness

Conference tournament week is one of the most frantic times in college basketball each year and therefore one of the best. If your team is on the proverbial bubble of making the NCAA tournament versus settling for the who-cares NIT, you've already worked through all the conference brackets to wrangle the best scenarios for your heroes and hate on teams you've barely noticed all season.

Depending on how liberally one defines this year's bubble, up to 20 teams still harbor hopes of grabbing the six or seven remaining at-large bids and hearing their names called for the NCAAs Sunday evening. That means the weekend holds plenty of elimination games, which are always the most fun to watch.

In the Big 10, for instance, Iowa fans have seen their Hawkeyes drop five of six games in the past three weeks. With a quick exit from the conference tournament, they could be facing a return visit to the NIT. Minnesota, which seems to play itself into trouble every year, is again in precarious position as the weekend begins.

Wisconsin has no worries about being in the NCAAs, of course; Bucky has never failed to make the field in the 13 years Bo Ryan has coached here. For the Badgers, the only immediate questions are whether they'll qualify for a number-two seed and whether the tournament committee will award them two games in Milwaukee. Assuming that Wisconsin wins its Big 10 opener in Indianapolis Friday night, the answers are probably yes and yes.

If the Badgers get the basic equivalent of two home games, they'll have a good shot at one of their deepest NCAA runs in years. It's always easy to carp -- Sam Dekker can disappear at times, Traevon Jackson is far too inconsistent, and penetrating guards have given Wisconsin's defense trouble all year -- but the Badgers have played the country's second-toughest schedule and won't be fazed by anyone. They'll be a tough out.

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