Even former Wisconsin-fan Charlie Schmidt is rooting for Northwestern and, yes, enjoying the madness of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
"It was awesome," the Libertyville junior football player said of NU's win over Vanderbilt in the Wildcats' first NCAA tourney game ever Thursday.
Schmidt has been all Northwestern all the time this month, as the offensive lineman gave a verbal commitment to Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald two weeks ago. He also had scholarship offers from Iowa State, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Central Michigan, Toledo and Virginia.
"I just didn't really feel like I wanted to visit any other schools," said Schmidt, who attended a pair of Northwestern football games last fall and also visited Notre Dame but did not receive an offer from the Fighting Irish. "I felt like it was the right time. They were taking only two more offensive linemen."
Crystal Lake Central junior offensive lineman Wyatt Blake grabbed that final scholarship offer on Friday, when he verbally committed to the Wildcats. For Schmidt, his commitment to Northwestern means changing allegiances. His dad, Andrew, played high school football in Milwaukee, and mom Lynn is also from Wisconsin. Even Charlie, whose older brothers A.J. and Henry played for Libertyville, was born in Milwaukee. The family moved to Libertyville when Charlie was a baby.
"My whole extended family is Wisconsin," Schmidt said. "I used to be a (University of) Wisconsin fan, but not anymore."
The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Schmidt is ranked as a three-star offensive guard by both 247sports.com and Scout.com. He is ranked as the 21st-best recruit in the state by 247sports.com.
Schmidt has started at offensive tackle for Libertyville each of the last two seasons, including 2015 when the Wildcats lost to Glenbard West in the Class 7A state championship game.
His quarterback that year was Riley Lees, who redshirted his freshman season at Northwestern last fall. When Schmidt had an overnight visit at NU the day before he committed, he stayed with his former high school teammate.
"He just told me how much he liked (Northwestern) and that I should do what felt right for me," Schmidt said. "(Northwestern) just seemed like the right fit with their combination of academics along with their level of football. I liked the coaches, and it seemed like a family atmosphere there."
Schmidt was a sectional qualifier in wrestling last month. He carries a 3.5 GPA and plans to take the ACT next month. He won't sign his letter of intent until next February.
"I'm 100 percent committed (to Northwestern)," he said. "I don't think there's really anything that would change it."