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Marquette, UW play Thursday as March Madness kicks off

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MILWAUKEE -- March Madness 2012 kicked off on Thursday, March 15th, and Dairy State basketball fans found themselves in a peculiar position. Both Marquette and Wisconsin are in the tournament, and some fans had to watch two games at once Thursday afternoon!

March Madness moved into Milwaukee Thursday, and college basketball fans saw red, and blue and gold. Both UW-Madison and Marquette University were in Thursday's first round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, and allegiances were split at Karma Bar and Grill on Milwaukee near-east side.

With the UW game starting at 1:10 p.m., and the Marquette game starting at 1:45 p.m., Karma owner Ari Domnitz said he had a unique opportunity. Domnitz says planning for March Madness began right after the Super Bowl, and continued right up until Thursday's game-time decision regarding which fan base would occupy the larger seating area upstairs. "Wouldn't have chosen to have (both games) on the same day, but we're prepared for it. We knew that we'd split the sound, either way. We initially thought that we'd see more of a Marquette draw, but the sea of red poured in (Thursday) morning, so Wisconsin sound was upstairs, and Marquette was downstairs," Domnitz said.

This plan worked...for some. "We heard that (Marquette) was supposed to be upstairs, and we were supposed to be downstairs, but there were so many of us that they let us stay (upstairs). Makes me feel good!" UW grad Jason Hernandez said.

That feeling was not shared by others, including Karma bartender Luc Benavides as he served drinks in his Marquette blue and gold. "If you look around, it's a sea of red, and I'm the only Marquette shirt in here," Benavides said.

Benavides wasn't the only Marquette fan at Karma Thursday, but the blue and gold was difficult to find amidst the sea of red. Benavides attributes the disproportionate red to the Badgers earlier start, adding he doesn't have a problem cheering for the Badgers, as long as they're not up against the Golden Eagles. "I mean, hey, it's all Sconnie teams right? As long as we win, it's good. As long as it ends up Marquette and Wisconsin at the end, why not?" Benavides said.

There is the potential that those two teams could meet for the national championship. After Thursday's games, both Marquette and UW are still in the tournament.