Ryan Evans, UW men's basketball vs. Belmont, NCAA tournament
Wisconsin's Ryan Evans (5) attempts to dunk against Belmont during an NCAA men's basketball tournament opening game Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz. Chris Carlson -- Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Another western assignment for the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team was a blessing for Ryan Evans.

The junior forward said about 15 of his friends and family members will make the six-hour trip from Phoenix for Thursday's second-round game against Montana.

Evans’ fan club was around 60 when the Badgers opened last year’s NCAA tournament in Tucson, Ariz.

Meanwhile, Montana coach Wayne Tinkle, the youngest of 11 children, was born in Milwaukee but only spent a year there before his family moved to the Chicago area.

He still has family in Wisconsin; his brother, Terry, coached the Lakeland women’s basketball program for two seasons in the late 1980s and was a prep girls basketball coach at Plymouth.

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