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Badger fans excited for Friday's game

Published On: Mar 21 2013 09:58:11 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 22 2013 08:41:05 AM CDT

MADISON, Wis. -

It's only a matter of hours before Wisconsin plays in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and Badger fans are as faithful as ever.

"There are a few exams Friday, so I don't know how that's going to go. But I don't have any classes, so I'm going to be home, screaming at the television," said John Boarini, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Boarini is betting that the Badgers will go far in the tournament. But while the Wisconsin basketball team fights Mississippi for a win, Merwyn Walker, 76, is fighting for his life.

"On Jan. 7, I had open heart surgery," Walker said.

He's at Saint Mary's Hospital, recovering from surgery and a stroke that stole some of his memory but not his spirit.

"We've been going to football and basketball games for years," Walker said about him and his wife of 55 years.

For now, the lifelong fan gets his March Madness fix from his hospital room. But he wants to watch Friday's game from home.

"If I can get out of here by 9:30 a.m., I’ll leave. If I can't, I’ll stay right here and we'll just stay here until after the celebration is over and we'll go home," Walker said.

From the hospital to the hardwood, Badger fans remain hopeful their favorite team takes the top tournament spot.

"Unless you have a test, you're going to be watching the game," Boarini said.

The game airs on TruTV at 11:40 a.m. Friday.

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