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Seventeen of the best teams not to make the boys’ 68-team Dream Tournament
NIT Boys
Every March Madness tournament has its snubs. Our SW Wisconsin Dream Tournament is no different. Here is what a "NIT" bracket of 16 of the best teams not to make the 68-team Dream Tournament bracket might look like.

With every NCAA tournament, every All-Star game, every all-time list, there are always snubs.

We recognize our Dream Tournament is no different. 

We poured through hundreds of teams for each Dream Tournament and tried to pick the 68-most deserving based on the criteria we created, including minimum one team per school in our coverage area, and not strictly the 68-best.

Here are 17 of the best teams that didn’t earn a place in our boys’ Dream Tournament for a variety of reasons.

1989 Cuba City 
(23–3, 12–0 SWAL 1 champion)
The 1989 Cubans were mentioned in the 1991 Cuba City dynasty note, but senior Brad Timmerman (24 ppg, SWAL I MVP) were left out due to not wanting to have two versions of his younger brother future 6’10” Wisconsin Badger Greg Timmerman in the tournament, as well as the depth of Cuba City history with seven Petitgoue teams already in the field. Brad Timmerman, Chris Kern (17 ppg) and Jason Kiley (10 ppg) led the 89 Cubans to the Class B state semifinals. This team could have made a run in the Dream Bracket even without freshman Greg Timmerman on the roster.

2010 Cuba City 
(24–2, 13–1 SWAL champion)
The 2010 Cubans were also squeezed out due to the lengthy list of Cuba City state qualifying teams ahead of them on the list, but 2010 was certainly deserving. D1 UW–Milwaukee recruit Evan Richard (23.3 ppg), fellow senior Wells Kaiser (10 ppg) and sophomore Cory Vaassen (9.9 ppg) led the Cubans to a share of the SWAL title and a berth in the D3 sectional semifinals before a 55–54 loss to Poynette.

2015 River Valley 
(20–6, 8–2 SWC runner-up)
D1 Western Illinois recruit Brandon Gilbeck (6’10”, 17.4 ppg, 10.7 rpg) and fellow senior Luke Price (9 ppg) led coach Luke Thatcher’s Blackhawks to a second-place finish in the SWC and berth in the D3 sectional finals, before a 42–34 loss to East Troy.

1998 Ithaca 
(20–5, 11–3 R&V runner-up)
The committee flat out dropped the ball on this one. The 1998 Bulldogs deserved to be in our 68-team bracket based on our own criteria as Ithaca’s lone representative, but we simply overlooked them during our research. Micah Nelson, Michael Clary and Travis Hisel led coach Dan Rice’s 1998 Ithaca team to the brink of the state tournament before a heart-breaking 86–85 double overtime loss to Blair–Taylor in the D4 sectional finals.  

2020 Darlington 
(22–3, 12–2 SWAL runner-up)

Juniors Carter Lancaster (SWAL MVP, 20.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Cayden Rankin (14 ppg, 7 rpg) led coach Tom Uppena’s #6-ranked Redbirds to a sensational 22-3 season and a second-place finish in the SWAL All three of the Redbirds’ losses were against undefeated #1-ranked Cuba City.

1996 Belmont 
(20–4, 12–2 Blackhawk champion)
Senior Beau Buchs (AP honorable mention All-State) and juniors Joel Craven and Nick Klein led the Braves to their first outright Blackhawk Conference title since 1963  and a Division 4 regional title with a 51-36 win over defending state champion Cassville. The Braves' season ended with a 49-46 loss to Pecatonica in the D4 sectional semifinals.

2018 Platteville 
(19–6, 8–2 SWC champion)
Coach Mike Huser led the Hillmen to back-to-back SWC titles in 2018 and 2019. The 2018 Platteville team was led by 1,000-point scorer senior Donovan Blevins (2018 SWC MVP, 15.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and junior Cade Rohrbach (2019 SWC MVP, 10.2 ppg, 3.5 apg).

2013 Southwestern 
(21–4, 11–3 SWAL runner-up)
Seniors Josh Smith (14.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg),  Aaron Kaiser (11.8 ppg, 3.6 apg) and Aaron Tranel (10.6 ppg, 6 rpg) led coach Mike Allen’s Wildcats to back-to-back 20-win seasons and reached the sectional semifinals in both 2012 and 2013, but are third in Southwestern’s hierarchy of legendary teams. The 2013 Wildcats fell to undefeated and eventual D4 state runner-up Cuba City 56–44.  

2009 Potosi 
(20–4, 10–2 SRW runner-up)
Coach Mike Uppena’s Chieftains suffered two of its four losses to the mighty D4 state champion Benton Zephyrs, but senior standout point guard Derek Flesch (SRW MVP, 16.6 ppg) led 2009 Potosi to the D4 sectional semifinals before an 80–72 loss to Hillsboro. 

1961 Bloomington 
(21–1, 16–0 Blackhawk champion)
Bloomington all-time leading scorer Jerry Krantz (1,407 points) and fellow senior Dave Hoffman led coach Carl Andrew’s #6-ranked Bluejays to 20 straight wins before a 61-56 regional final loss to Iowa–Grant ended a magical season. The Jays won the regional consolation game to finish 21–1.

2013 North Crawford 
(21–4, 13–1 R&V champion)
Senior 1,000-point scorer Joe Childs (2-time Ridge & Valley MVP, 22 ppg) and fellow senior Joe Besessem led coach Gary Hines’ final North Crawford team to a second straight R&V title before ending the season with a regional final loss to Cassville 43–30. The 2012 Trojans also went 21–4 and lost in the D5 regional finals to Southwestern 56–43.

1984 Richland Center 
(18–3, 11–1 SWAL champion)
Coach Syd Sincock’s Hornets won the SWAL title with first-team All-SWAL selections Chris Brunsvold and Pat Nigl leading the way. Two of RC’s losses were to Platteville, a non-conference regular season game, then again in the Class B regional finals 45–41. 

2006 Richland Center 
(18–4, 9–1 SWC, champion)
Future D1 Wisconsin football player and NFL Atlanta Falcons draft pick Bradie Ewing (18.7 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg, 2007 SWC Player of the Year) along with seniors Alex Stanek (12 ppg) and Ryan Collins (9 ppg), led the 2006 Hornets to their first conference title in a decade before a regional semifinal loss to Sauk Prairie 66–57.

1999 Mineral Point 
(18–3, 11–1 SWAL 2 co-champion)
Seniors Frank McGettigan (1999 SWAL 2 MVP, 15.8 ppg), Bret McGraw and Jerod Esch led coach Dan Burresson’s #4-ranked Pointers to a share of the conference title before a 47–46 upset loss to Belmont in the D3 regional semifinals.

1999 Boscobel 
(18–5, 10–2 SWAL 2, co-champion)
Seniors Travis Harris, Ryan Von Haden and Ben Richter teamed with juniors Craig Molldrem and Jeff Vorwald to led the Bulldogs to a share of the 1999 SWAL 2 title. Boscobel’s 1999 season ended with a 53–49 D3 regional final loss to eventual state qualifier North Crawford just a week after beating the Trojans in a regular season non-conference game.   

2005 Lancaster 
(17–5, 9–3 SWAL 1, runner-up)
Lancaster’s best team since the 23–1 sectional team had the misfortune of coming together during an enrollment spike at LHS. Seniors Scott Puls (15 ppg), Jon Logemann (13 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Issac Petrowitz (10 ppg) and Dillon Starrett led coach Mark Uppena’s Flying Arrows to a second-place finish in the SWAL 1 behind undefeated Dodgeville, but Lancaster was knocked out of the Division 2 playoffs by eventual state qualifier Monroe (22–4) in the regional semifinals 78–53.

2020 Monticello 
(23–2, 12–0 SRE champion)
Geography kept coach Mark Olson’s 2020 Ponies and Six Rivers East co-Players of the Year Peter Gustafson (20.3 ppg, 6 rpg) and Reece Rufer (18.4 ppg, 9 rpg) out of our tourney. While deserving, they didn’t secure a spot because Monticello is not a coverage school within our newspaper group. 

For more coverage and team capsules of the boys' teams in the North and East regions of the Boys Dream Tournament, get your copy of this week Platteville Journal, Herald Independent, Republican Journal, Fennimore Times, Tri-County Press or Richland Observer.