March Madness is a time when even the most casual of college basketball fans fill out a bracket and watch the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, when an upset can happen when you least expect it. For people who are alumni of schools that are considered the “blue bloods” of college basketball, it is a time when they root for their alma maters to make a run at a title.
The tournament can cause some good-natured ribbing between loved ones, which was the case with NFL star J.J. Watt, a Wisconsin alum, and his wife, North Carolina alum Kealia Ohai Watt.
J.J. Watt marries Kealia Ohai Watt
HuffPost details the Watts’ courtship that led to their marriage. They met through J.J.’s former teammate Brian Cushing, who is married to Kealia’s older sister Megan.
Rumors that the two were dating started up in 2016 when J.J. was spotted at Kealia’s soccer games and he wore a shirt with her jersey number during a press conference. They went public with their romance in 2017, when Kealia confirmed it on a podcast while J.J. subtly dropped hints like a Snapchat photo with J and K stockings hung at his home.
The couple got engaged in May 2019, and their wedding came just months later at the Ocean Club resort in the Bahamas in February 2020.
Kealia Ohai Watt’s incredible soccer career
While she’s not nearly as well-known as her husband, Kealia has had a good athletic career of her own — on the soccer pitch, as ESPN tells us. She has been nearly blind in her right eye since childhood, but she has overcome that obstacle to succeed as a professional soccer player.
It does cause her some problems, though, as she admits that her “depth perception is pretty off.” But she believes that because she was as young as she was when the condition developed, she “kind of figured out how to live with it.”
Kealia was a prized recruit for the Tar Heels and won an NCAA championship with the team, and that same year she scored the winning goal for the United States in the 2012 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
In 2014, she went second in the NWSL draft, becoming the first-ever draft pick for the expansion Houston Dash. In the 2016 season, Kealia scored 11 goals, which tied her for the league lead. She made her international debut for the U.S. senior team in 2016, and in 2020 the Dash traded her to the Chicago Red Stars.
Kealia reignites the UNC-Wisconsin rivalry with her husband
As is often the case, this year’s March Madness tournament reignited the ACC-Big Ten rivalry between the couple’s alma maters. The schools played each other in the first round, and it wasn’t even close with the ninth-seeded Badgers routing the No. 8 seed Tar Heels, 85-62, to advance to the second round. J.J.’s school may have won the battle, but Kealia’s alma mater wins the war between the two.
Despite UNC losing in the head-to-head battle, she tweeted out a comparison between the two schools’ histories in the tournament to remind her husband that UNC men’s basketball has six national championships and Wisconsin has just one.
She then went even further by pointing out that she personally has an NCAA title, while J.J. didn’t win any during his time on Wisconsin’s football team. And Wisconsin won’t be adding a second basketball title to its ledger this season, as the Badgers lost to top-seeded Baylor in the second round of the tournament, 76-63, not allowing J.J. to savor his school’s victory for too long.