March Madness is right around the corner, and while the Wisconsin Badgers won’t be a trendy pick to reach the Final Four this year, they wouldn’t be the first defensively savvy UW squad to make an improbable run.
It’s been nearly two decades since the 1999-2000 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament as an eighth seed, confounding national expectations (and opposing offenses) thanks in large part to its smothering defense.
Coached by Dick Bennett, who had turned the program around over his five years at the helm, the Badgers only went 22-14 and 8-8 in the Big Ten that season, needing wins in the final three league games of the season to even get to .500.
After two wins in the Big Ten Tournament, the Badgers could reasonably assume they were in the Big Dance, and they drew ninth-seeded Fresno State in the first round. Nobody could have foreseen what came next; it was something that the Badgers hadn’t accomplished in 59 years.
How could a team with zero all-conference selections – not even an honorable mention – make a run to the Final Four?
GETTING IN THE DANCE
Wisconsin held teams to 55.8 points per game in 1999-2000 and had a tough schedule ranked No. 1 by the Sagarin ratings and No. 5 by RPI, but the Badgers still needed a late regular-season flourish.
JON BRYANT (Badgers guard, named Most Outstanding Player of the West regional): I think we played the toughest schedule in the nation. We were used to playing very good teams. Our thing was we just needed to find a way to get in, grind it out and make the NCAA Tournament. We had a big win down the stretch against Indiana at home. Duany Duany kind of took the game over and really helped us get over the top where we felt that game would get us into the NCAA Tournament, but we knew we probably needed to win one or two in the Big Ten tournament. We were able to do that and then lost to Michigan State, which was a common theme that year.
MARK VERSHAW (Badgers leading scorer in 1999-2000): With six games left in that season, we switched our offense. I can remember vividly because we went to the University of Iowa in our first game, and it was an opportunity for me to get to go all over the floor in a mover role. I’d been in a blocker role. I was very adamant to make that offense look good, and I got in foul trouble in the first half, and I thought that was the end of our offense. Second half, we came out and put out one of the most remarkable defensive efforts in the first 7 or 10 minutes. Our offense was clicking. From that point on, we won four of our last six.
ANDY KOWSKE (Badgers forward): We had enough quality wins that year where other teams didn’t take us lightly; they knew we were a good basketball team. We were 5-8 in the Big Ten, and at that point in time, we knew if we could just get to .500, which is very respectable in a tough Big Ten Conference that year, and then get some wins in the conference tournament, we’d have a chance to get in, and that’s exactly what we did. The final win which got us 8-8 was at home against Bobby Knight’s Indiana team. Nationally televised game, huge win, big baskets by Maurice Linton and Duany Duany.
MAURICE LINTON (Badgers forward, who scored 14 points with 10 rebounds against Indiana in the regular-season finale): I was able to have at least one good game that season, and it was cool that it was a game that had a little weight to it. It was a game we had to have, but we were confident we would have a good postseason (no matter) the outcome of that game. Toward the end of the game we had confidence that we had it in hand. That game, the students may have stormed the court, and I knew I wanted no part of that. That was probably a bucket list item for (a few of my teammates) in their college experience. That game was really, really fun.
DICK BENNETT (UW coach, 1995-2001): I remember telling (UW athletics director) Pat Richter and others that I wanted to take five years to try and get this thing going. If five years came and we hadn’t done it, everybody would know that. If we had made some real progress, that too would be known. I was feeling that pressure. Are we ever going to get this thing really around the corner? Those guys did it.
BRYANT: So much of it depends on your draw and how you match up against the teams you play in the tournament. We felt that the teams were on our side of the bracket, we matched up well against.
OPENING ROUND: (8) Wisconsin 66, (9) Fresno State 56 (in Salt Lake City)
First-round opponent Fresno State had finished second in the WAC that season, but the Bulldogs handed nationally-ranked Tulsa (a team coached by now-Kansas coach Bill Self) its only two conference losses, then beat Tulsa again for the WAC tournament title. Fresno State was coached by the legendary Jerry Tarkanian, and four players on the roster eventually appeared in the NBA, including senior Courtney Alexander (24.8 points per game). The Badgers trailed at halftime but went on a 23-2 run in the second half, with Jon Bryant scoring all 21 of his points on three-pointers.
BENNETT: The year before, even though we made the NCAA, was a low point. We were so poor in that game against Southwest Missouri (a 43-32 loss), and it just kind of highlighted what everybody hated about our style. I remember thinking, ‘Oh please Lord, don’t let this happen again.’
LINTON: That was a personal game that I circled. I had a friend of mine, Melvin Ely, who played for that Fresno State team, and I knew I had to have some bragging rights coming home. So, I was glad to get that win.
BRYANT: Fresno State was kind of undisciplined. They were very athletic, but we knew that we could really grind them out and make them play our style. I think we were fairly confident, but the one thing in the back of our mind was the year before and that debacle against Southwest Missouri State where I think we scored 32 points or something.
BENNETT: They zoned us, Fresno State did. Jerry Tarkanian was not known for a zone, so that was a bit of a surprise. They either didn’t know what a shooter Jon Bryant was or they just decided to leave him alone. On three separate occasions, they failed to guard him or rotate toward him. He hit three in a row. It was like the biggest relief.
MIKE KELLEY (Badgers guard in 1999-2000): It was the worst 2-3 zone you’ve ever seen. I would literally sit at the top of the key and pass-fake to the right wing and then pass it back to the left-wing (to Bryant), and he would shoot a three. There was no design, no play. But because (Bryant) hit six threes or whatever he did in that game, as shooters see the ball go through the hoop, you feel good about it, and the next game you play with a little more confidence, and away we went.
BRYANT: Everyone makes a big deal about that game for me personally, the fact that I made seven three-pointers, but it was basically like being in the gym alone, in a sense. Those shots were really wide open. I think what it did for me was maybe give me the confidence boost I needed to really carry that forward and kind of get over the hump. I also think Coach Bennett after that game maybe gave me a little more leash to miss a shot here or there early or make a mistake early and leave me in the game.
KELLEY: There was no sense of ‘we’re better than people realize and we’re going to show everybody how good we are.’ If anything, it was more playing out of fear because the prior year, we got embarrassed. We scored 32 points only, and I think we hit a three-pointer late in the game just to get into the 30s, and that was as a 5 seed. We were all petrified of laying an egg one more time on a national stage. … We got that monkey off our back, we got a win and now we’re playing a 1 seed, and you feel like you’re playing with house money a little bit.
SECOND ROUND: (8) Wisconsin 66, (1) Arizona 59 (in Salt Lake City)
Top-seeded Arizona only led once, at 2-0, in a game the Badgers controlled throughout. Andy Kowske recorded his second double-double of the tournament, Maurice Linton scored nine of Wisconsin’s last 13 points, and Arizona leading scorer Michael Wright was held to two points on four shot attempts. Arizona, the Pac-10 champion with four future NBA players (Loren Woods, Luke Walton, Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas), finished the year 27-7.
KELLEY: We got a huge break. They had a 7-footer, Loren Woods, who I think was a lottery pick, who hurt his back late in the season. They still got a one seed, but they were playing without him, and that was huge. … They had NBA players, but they didn’t have their big man.
LINTON: We knew we had a bit of a team that wasn’t full go because Loren Woods was injured in that game. They still had Luke Walton, still had Richard Jefferson, still had Arenas. Now that I think about it, holy cow, that team was stacked.
BENNETT: We were a very dangerous out as an underdog. We were comfortable. We could face that opponent, whom we discovered kind of along the way – not from (coach) Lute Olson – but we didn’t think they respected us. It wasn’t a planted seed, it was something that we sensed from the media, perhaps even some of the things that were said, that it kind of just fed the fire. We got off to a really quick start and hung on and won that game.
KOWSKE: They were young, they hadn’t seen anything like that the whole season. Gilbert Arenas was their (second) leading scorer and Mike guarded him and shut him down. There was a point in the second half where we were shooting a free throw and Gilbert Arenas was just chewing out his teammates. ‘These guys are for real, we’ve got to play!’ and that’s when we knew we had them. You could see the frustration. They couldn’t figure out a way to score against us.
KELLEY: The combination of playing a little bit looser because you’re the 8 seed and they’re the 1, and the pressure’s on them, I think helped us. And then I think we were just tougher, if I’m being totally honest. I think they thought they could just roll the ball out, and they were going to beat us. I remember distinctly Gilbert Arenas with about 6 or 7 minutes to go, there was a free throw being shot, and it was clear that we were legit, we had the lead at the time, and he was not yelling, but it was more of a whine, ‘C’mon guys, this is Wisconsin, let’s go.’ It sort of, I thought, opened our mind up a little bit to how they viewed us, that they could just turn it on at any point because we were ‘just Wisconsin.’ And of course, it was too late by that point.
SWEET 16: (8) Wisconsin 61, (4) LSU 48 (in Albuquerque)
Some would argue LSU, ranked 10th in the nation, was an even tougher test than Arizona. The SEC West champion was led by big men Stromile Swift and Jabari Smith – future NBA players who combined to average 28 points and 15 rebounds that season. But LSU scored just 14 points in the first half and trailed at one point, 36-18. Bryant finished with 16 points, and Kelley picked off five steals.
KOWSKE: They beat a pretty good Texas team to get to the Sweet 16. They were playing before us in Utah and Stromile Swift was just dunking on everybody; he was looking really good. People looked at that Arizona game and said ‘OK, it’s a bunch of juniors and seniors that beat up on younger guys,’ but now they’re facing a hot, big, fast, strong, athletic LSU team, so we were big underdogs again.
BRYANT: The biggest win on paper was the Arizona game. I think our best defensive performance was the LSU game. We were pretty good against Arizona as well defensively, but the LSU game, they probably didn’t take us seriously and we really surprised them with our defensive ability and our pressure and our ability to take away the paint.
KOWSKE: I don’t think they respected us. Mike and I, at the presser, we reached out to say what’s up to Stromile, and they basically mean-mugged us and gave us the cold shoulder, and we were like, ‘OK that’s how it is, I see how you’re playing this.’ And then we kicked their butt on the basketball floor. We knew they were going to go to Stromile and Jabari in the post, and we had a good game plan with doubling the post, and it really frustrated them. They didn’t quite know how to pass out of that. Jon continued to hit big shots, Mike was shutting down guards on defense. Everyone remembers Julian Swartz coming off the bench. It was the first game he played in like 10 games, and he comes in and makes a big basket before halftime which kind of stopped one of their runs. That game, out of all the wins, was probably the one that was most shocking to people. We even kind of surprised ourselves a little bit.
VERSHAW: That post trap, if you don’t see it, it’s hard to go up against. Going up against it in practice and then seeing teams that aren’t accustomed to it or used to it, it does affect post players. There weren’t as many post players that did damage (against us). The guys that did damage against our defense were the small-forward types that had the length.
KOWSKE: You really have to be in sync when you do that, because the guards need to shift and rotate and need to recover if they pass out of it. I think it just speaks to how well we played together. We had a good sense of where we were on the floor. If you’re doing that to a big man and he’s not a good passing big man, it can just really frustrate them. Worst-case scenario, they were just chucking it back out to the wing, and it helped us neutralize their strengths, which were their post players.
BENNETT: They clearly underestimated our ability to trap them and kind of neutralize their strength. In looking at them, they ran kind of an offense where we thought we’d be close enough to trap either and make them scramble to find ways to score. I didn’t think it would work quite as well as it did, and it’s a good thing it did, because we weren’t exactly a juggernaut offensively in that game, particularly in that first half. It worked beautifully and gave us that understanding that this is our formula. What others might perceive as being boring and ugly, this is who we are.
ELITE 8: (8) Wisconsin 64, (6) Purdue 60 (in Albuquerque)
Oddly enough, the Elite 8 foe was a team Wisconsin had beaten twice before that season, so the underdog status was no longer as clear. Purdue and Wisconsin swapped leads eight times in the game, but Bryant made another five three-pointers, and UW took a 60-53 lead with 1:08 to play, even though Purdue stayed close until the thrilling end. The Boilermakers had taken third in the Big Ten behind coach Gene Keady, who had famously never coached in a Final Four.
KELLEY: I thought it was the worst possible matchup. I thought we had three really great matchups. Fresno State being soft, Arizona being soft and LSU being tissue-paper soft. We finally had a team that was every bit as tough as us, and knew exactly what we were going to do. There was nothing we could change. We weren’t the type of team that game-planned differently game to game. We knew what they were going to do and vice versa.
BENNETT: When I started there in ‘95, I think we used the thought of ‘Begin the dream.’ We followed that loose symbolic approach or whatever you want to call it all the way up, (with) ‘see the dream.’ And now there was an honest to goodness chance to ‘touch the dream,’ so that kind of fell into place. It highlighted some of the stuff that we truly believed in our unity and our thankfulness (in the pregame speech). It was more of a natural approach, but I got a little choked up only because I had coached so long and I knew this was probably going to be my last year.
KELLEY: Every year we had a motto, and ‘the dream’ for coach Bennett was getting to the Final Four. It always even struck me as a little odd, because shouldn’t the dream be to win a national championship? But the way coach would talk about it, ‘Once you get to the Final Four, you’ve done something special that so few people have done, and anybody can win.’ I still have in my office – I’m looking at it now – from our recruiting visits, they would host us for our official visit and they would put you up in a hotel room, and they would plaster the walls with these pictures and fake articles. Some intern on their staff or student would write a fake article, and it was all about us going to the Final Four in 2000 in Indianapolis. It gives you chills when you read the articles.
KOWSKE: At that point in his career, this was his biggest game. We had a theme that year called ‘Touch the Dream,’ and he went back to that. Here we are guys, we’re on the verge of going to the Final Four, and it was an emotional speech that really got us fired up.
VERSHAW: We really celebrated each win at more of an emotional pitch than other teams that have made the Final Four. Even that first game, Fresno State was a loaded team, talent-wise. Each of those games, it was such a tremendous feeling. Coach Bennett’s speech prior to the Purdue game, it’s one of those moments where I don’t even know if I can recall what he really said, but just that feeling. Almost that feeling we were going to be too hyped up and too emotionally charged to play, but it was such a great speech, and to see him have that moment.
BENNETT: One of the things that I always dreamed about myself was what would it like to go to a Final Four. So probably I got a little choked up, and maybe that was one time it didn’t restrict our players, maybe it helped them a little bit. They couldn’t have played any harder against a very tough opponent, who we were playing for a fourth time.
KOWSKE: Jon Bryant set the tone, hitting some big threes in the first half, which gave us some immediate confidence. Rest of the game, we just tried to play solid defense. Brian Cardinal was their best player, and I think he scored some points, but for the most part, he was contained. Mike did a great job playing defense on Jaraan Cornelle. We got good minutes from everyone in that game.
KELLEY: We would fill out NCAA brackets as players. You’re probably not supposed to do that, but we did anyway. I did. I actually picked us to go to the Elite 8 and play Purdue, but I had Purdue beating us. Why I did that, I have no idea. But I remember having this fear, if this happens, did I just make this happen? Will it sort of be like mentally, my mind was there and we couldn’t beat them? If I have a bad game, will it be because I never thought we could get to the Final Four anyway? The baseball-superstitious side of me was very worried about it, and I certainly would have carried it to my grave if we had lost to them, I wouldn’t have told anybody. But I can tell this story now.
LINTON: Their coach embodied the same things that our coach embodied. This wasn’t going to be a game where we sneak up on people, like Arizona, like LSU. I do remember the overall feel from Coach’s pregame speech, and I know I went out there and I was a bit too pumped up. It didn’t lead to my best game. But we were definitely aware that we were in for a battle.
KELLEY: The game was everything I thought it would be. It was tight the whole game. They battled, it was tough, it was in the altitude, and ultimately, we scored just a few more points than they did.
VERSHAW: It was a 4-point game, but that last possession, we played it as if it was a tie game because we were so consumed into that game. Most teams would be playing the role conservative, guarding against the three and trying not to foul. I just remember not even really recognizing the time and score, we just knew we had to get a stop. When that buzzer went off, there was that moment where (you thought), ‘Wait is this really over?’ and then the celebration began. But that game was the most intense game I’ve been a part of, as far as just a physical, emotional game. We had two coaches that really wanted to be a part of that Final Four, two upper-class-type teams, and it was the fourth time we played each other. That all tied into that kind of an ending.
KELLEY: I remember thinking about Khalid El-Amin the year before for UConn and his team. … I remember him running and jumping on the scorer’s table and kind of pumping his fist. So Mark Vershaw and I ran over to not the scorer’s table but the media table, and I jumped up on it, and it was more like a folding table. It wasn’t a strong table, and it collapsed … there was definitely some computer damage. We didn’t show much compassion. … Then I ran away, and Mark (Vershaw) was getting to the scene of the accident, but I was gone. It was a hit and run by me, and he was left holding the bag. He just turned around and came over by us; it was pretty funny.
LINTON: Us making the Final Four, just the energy from that was insane. … Even getting back on campus, Coach is telling us, ‘You do not need to be out, make sure you’re in your rooms, we don’t want to see you out.’ And all the players are like, ‘Skip that,’ we will never do this again. It kind of sucked as we were doing all the media stuff and we would catch the news and see what Madison looked like, and Madison was rocking, and we were stuck in Albuquerque. It’s like the fans were allowed to enjoy it more than we were able to. We were like, ‘Ah shoot, we’ve got to get back there.’ I know a few of us did enjoy a night on the town.
BRYANT: I didn’t get anything for (Most Outstanding Player of the region); it was kind of interesting. I didn’t even get a certificate for that. Which, whatever, at this point it doesn’t matter, it was a little surprising at the time. I figured the NCAA would do something for that. It was such a team thing. The MOP of the West region was partly because I was the guy that kind of got hot and made some shots, but there were certainly guys that were really valuable in each game.
THE RETURN TO MADISON
KOWSKE: Going back, I wish I would have let it soak in a little bit, but you’re so focused on the game and preparing that it’s hard to enjoy that week. Coming back from Purdue, there was an awesome pep rally at Camp Randall, probably 20,000 people were there. I remember coming out from the Kohl Center to the airport, (seeing fans) lining East Washington Avenue. Roy Boone went to Madison East High school, which is on that route, so the entire high school was out in front of the high school with signs. Badger fans are awesome, and it’s one of the reasons I went to Wisconsin. Growing up in Wisconsin, you end up loving the Wisconsin Badgers, being a Badger fan and knowing other Badger fans. Being close to Indianapolis was cool because everyone could pretty much just drive down there.
VERSHAW: That year was pretty special. We had a Rose Bowl, the women’s NIT, the hockey team was ranked No. 1, so there was a lot of success in that time. I’ve always appreciated Wisconsin fans. For the basketball program to have that level of success and then to see what’s happened since then, that’s something I’ve always taken great pride in, that Wisconsin fans get to see that kind of success. They deserve it because they backed it emotionally and lent their support to a lot of teams prior to (us). To see them enjoy the success has been outstanding.
LINTON: As we’re arriving riding up on the bus, the coaches are giving us the plans and who’s gonna speak and, ‘Don’t embarrass the program,’ all that. Everyone is thinking about what they’re going to say. … Mike was like, ‘Holy cow, what do I say? All of us were humble guys, but Mike Kelley, he probably out of all of us deserved to have a little bit of swag, I guess, but he was just a humble guy. He’s not the guy to stand up in front of a crowd and acknowledge the crowd, at least not then. Back then was the ‘Whassup’ (Budweiser ad campaign) they were running. So I was like, ‘Mike, just say that,’ and he said, ‘That’s not a bad idea.’ Mike, he’s like a media darling, and people are screaming, and he grabs the mic and we shush the crowd and he says, ‘Whasssssup?’ and the crowd goes insane. That was a cool moment that I’ll always remember, seeing him rock that out.
NATIONAL SEMIFINAL: (1) Michigan State 53, (8) Wisconsin 41 (in Indianapolis)
The Badgers found themselves trailing by just 19-17 at halftime of the national semifinal, but Michigan State – a team that had defeated Wisconsin three times prior to the Final Four – went on a 13-2 run to start the second half and pulled away. Behind the powerhouse triumvirate of Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Charlie Bell, the Spartans ultimately finished with a record of 32-7 and hoisted the championship trophy. Roy Boone scored 16 points in the title game, but no other Badger had double figures.
VERSHAW: (Michigan State) didn’t play outside of themselves. They didn’t get rattled with the pace. They just stood and fought and said, ‘Who can get the most buckets?’ Morris Peterson’s stretch in the second half made it into a game where we had to try and do some things to catch up. He was the difference. Him and Michael Redd (then of Ohio State, eventually the Milwaukee Bucks), those type of players, (were) hard for us to guard.
KELLEY: They were just clearly the best team in the country. They could play fast, they could play slow, they could tell you what they were going to do and then do it anyway. People realize especially in Milwaukee how good (future Bucks player) Charlie Bell was, but at the time, he was a complementary player for them. It was all about Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson, and then they had Andre Hutson inside. But Charlie Bell was like a silent assassin on that team. He would run the wing, made just about every shot he put up. So he’s their third or fourth option and he goes on to have a 10-year NBA career, whatever he had. They were just tough.
BENNETT: These were very level-headed, bright young men, but having to play Michigan State for the fourth time, I knew we had to be able to do something to score enough. They were really a good team, and they were as good as we were at what we did and were able to do other things. We needed to do a little more, and I just didn’t come up with something new, something different. That bothers me to this day. I remember laying awake many nights after that, thinking, ‘What could I have done differently?’
LINTON: In our tenure against Michigan State, we won one game. Quite honestly, a lot of us on the team felt if we can get past Michigan State, we can sneak up on Florida or North Carolina (in the championship game). That’s what we felt. But there’s no sneaking up on Michigan State.
Wisconsin (and North Carolina, another eighth seed that reached the national semifinal) became the lowest-seeded teams to reach the Final Four since 11th-seeded LSU made it in 1986. It was the team’s fourth NCAA tournament appearance since seeding began in 1979 (1994, 1997, 1999, 2000), a far cry from what the program became. The 2000 team was the second of 19 straight appearances for UW in the tournament, with additional Final Four appearances coming in 2014 and 2015. Wisconsin finished the 1999-2000 season with a 22-14 record.
BRYANT: I’m not trying to take anything away from our guys, but I was a Division II player out of high school. I could have gone to a small Division I, but at the end of the day, I was a Division II player. A lot of our guys were hardly recruited.
BENNETT: We had a real good recruiting year as a result of that team. I know how hard Tony (Bennett, Dick’s son and an assistant coach at the time) worked to lock up Devin Harris, and Kirk Penny and Mike Wilkinson. Kirk was there, because he played a lot that freshman year, but Devin and Mike Wilkinson were two tremendous recruits. Alando Tucker might have come in the next one, so there’s three kids that were perhaps a little better than anyone we had recruited before. People always said there would be a big gain if you ever do something like go to a Final Four, and there was.
KELLEY: We lost Duany Duany and we lose Jon Bryant (to graduation before the 2000-01 season), but everybody else was back. We had Mike Wilkinson on that team, but he redshirted. Maybe the one thing I wish I could change about that time was we redshirted Mike Wilkinson, and he could have helped us (in 2000-01). He was a darn good player, as people would eventually find out, but we had so many people back. He was going to be behind Vershaw and Kowske, (Charlie) Wills and Linton. You can see why they did it, but the four years after that, we were thinking, ‘Oh man, we could have had Mike.’
LINTON: I really don’t bring (the Final Four) up much. The last time it really kind of hit me was when the Final Four was in Atlanta, I was able to attend a dinner to honor coach Bennett and seeing him and seeing Tony Bennett was amazing, as well as some of my former teammates. I re-lived it then. I still have my ring. Every so often, I’ll wear it around during tournament season, just to kind of internally support the Badgers and let them know I’m there. I definitely follow them.
KOWSKE: We still keep in touch with Coach, and we try to get together and golf with him every couple of years. Great man, a great role model, had a big impact on my life. When you’re 18 and you’re going to college, you’re pretty darn immature, and Coach is a guy who makes you get mature real quickly. I’m really happy that I was able to play for him.
BENNETT: You have to recruit players initially whom you can lose with, which meant you probably would lose in those first few years, but they would stay with you and learn and improve. Not only did I need to find players who could play but were willing to face the difficulties of losing and would stay together and develop as a kind of a core unit. I always tried to recruit a large number of players in my first real recruiting class, and I was able to do that at all of the schools, the colleges I coached at, particularly at Wisconsin, we were able to bring in a big class, and they did stay together through it all.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Jon Bryant is an investment adviser and was recently hired as head boys basketball coach at Armstrong High School, his alma mater in Plymouth, Minnesota (outside of Minneapolis).
Mark Vershaw recently moved to Virginia to teach high school history. He was previously an assistant basketball coach at Cornell, Washington State, Virginia and Western Illinois.
Maurice Linton has lived in Atlanta for 11 years, working in retail and running a store location for Total Wine & More.
Andy Kowske lives in New Berlin outside Milwaukee and is a civil engineer at a consulting firm.
Dick Bennett is retired and has lived in central Wisconsin for the past 10 years.
Mike Kelley lives in Menomonee Falls outside of Milwaukee and works in Hustisford. He co-owns Rolair Systems, a company that manufacturers compressors, with his father, Tim.