When the month of March rolls around in Wisconsin, there are a few things you can almost always count on: the madness of the NCAA Tournament, Greg Gard making a corny joke about making it to the Sweet 16, and the Badgers making another magical run in the tournament. This season, the Badgers managed to pull off the unbelievable win against the No. 1 Villanova Wildcats.

Watching the Badgers in March is more than just watching a basketball game. Here’s what being a Badger fan in March means to me.

Growing up in small town Wisconsin everyone pretty much had the same favorite sports teams, except for me. While everyone sported their green and gold on Packer Fridays, I strayed from the path. I followed in my brother’s footsteps at first of being a Viking fan and then eventually converted to a Patriots fan. Being different from everyone else was fun, it made me unique and made a great topic of discussion as to why I liked a certain team. The older I got, the more I became aware of more sports than football. Badger basketball frequently began making an appearance on our television, and it was something my whole family got into. It brought the sense of togetherness around a sport that we all had the same team for. Despite being a large family of Packers, Patriots, Bears, Vikings, Seahawks and Panthers fans, we could all sit down and watch a Badger game and cheer for the red and white. The camaraderie of being Badger fans was the most exciting part of March for me.

Being a Badger is being a part of a family much bigger than your own. The Badger Faithful stem all across the world and pretty much fill the state of Wisconsin. I can recall walking through a bar with my dad over winter break and someone asking if he caught the game earlier that day. They instantly sparked a conversation about the Badger’s senior squad and the excellence of Ethan Happ. The Badgers bring people together, whether that’s old friends talking about a recent game in a bar or family watching a game together.

Watching the Badgers take down Kentucky in the 2015 NCAA Tournament filled me with a sense of pride and still gives me chills just to think about. Watching that game and seeing the crowds of Badger fans occupy State Street is what pushed me to apply to Wisconsin. I wanted to be a part of something as special and as unique as the environment of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When I first toured the university, my tour guide told me after the unexpected win, him and 15,000 of his closest friends filled State Street. And this has held true for me. I have made friends over Badger games, whether discussing our favorite players or agreeing about how bad or good of a call the referee just made. Being a Badger creates bonds.

Being a Badger also represents loyalty. Even when the basketball team was struggling towards the end of the season, I still found myself either going or tuning into the games. Even the alumni are still loyal. You can always catch Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, and other former players tweeting about the game and their former teammates.

The Badgers represent the whole state of Wisconsin, and have done it well the past few years. They always seem to be the underdog, but can still pull off an upset, like giving Kentucky their first loss of the season or beating Villanova to advance to the Sweet 16.

I’m always proud to be a Badger and to have grown up in small town Wisconsin, but I like to show off a little bit more in March when the Badgers really shine. Loyalty, pride, togetherness, and the camaraderie are why I have devoted myself to the red and white.

As you watch the game on Friday, you might ask yourself – “What does it mean to me to be a Badger fan?”