Wisconsin sports fans are almost unbearable. Let me rephrase that. They are unbearable. They think every year is “their” team’s year. That’s hardly ever the case. But this year, the Badgers men’s’ basketball team is pretty good.
I’ll give Wisconsin sports fans credit: Their teams are always in contention. That’s more than a lot of fans can say about their respective teams. However, Wisconsin sports never finish the job. The Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl in 2011 and have won two playoff games since. Wisconsin football makes it to three straight Rose Bowls, and, well I think the fans know what happened in all three. Wisconsin makes it to the Final Four last season, only to lose to Kentucky on a three-pointer with 5.7 seconds left. (The one time I picked the Badgers to beat Ole Miss in the 2013 Tournament, and of course, they lose)
But I know what all Wisconsin fans will say, and in unison: “At least we made it!”
Yes, you did. Actually, you almost did.
However, I digress.
Like the San Antonio Spurs did a few years ago, the Badgers have transformed from an almost unwatchable team to a team that is now watchable.
Bo Ryan’s teams are known more for its defense, low turnover totals, and good free throw shooting. Those same teams did not make a lot of fields goals, shot a ridiculous amount of three-pointers, and, one year, shot 42% from the field. Two hundred and forty teams shot a better percentage that same season.
But Bo’s Badgers have transformed into an offensive juggernaut and have people talking about a repeat Final Four appearance. This season, the team is averaging 73.6 points per game and it’s still playing great defense, holding opponents to 55.1 points per game. The team is shooting a white-hot 48.8 percent for the field (19th in the country). It has to be the radiation from Bo’s face that is helping their cause (does he go to Florida on days between games?).
Wisconsin has throttled teams all season. It has nine wins by at least 20 points, and five wins by at least 30 points. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker are the team’s two best players, but the Badgers have also relied on bench-depth. Nigel Hayes joins Kaminsky and Dekker as the three Badger players to average double-figures in scoring.
Wisconsin is still winning the close games, too, just like always. The Badgers beat Georgetown by three points in November, Purdue by seven a few weeks ago, and Michigan in overtime on Saturday.
But Wisconsin throws a dud in there every once in a while, too. It lost to a very good but freshmen-led Duke team at home and dropped a road game at Rutgers.
Wisconsin has handled a fairly difficult schedule well, so far. It helps that the B1G is down this season. Michigan State isn’t very good and Michigan is without its best player (Caris LeVert). Nebraska was over-hyped and I think Iowa doesn’t deserve a Top 25 ranking. Maryland and Indiana have been nice surprises, especially since I forgot Maryland was in the B1G. Minnesota has under-performed, like usual, and Illinois is battling key injuries. Ohio State is ho-hum.
I remember saying that the Wisconsin Badgers would be good for at least seven losses this season. So far, the Badgers have lost twice.
The Badgers have some luck on their side, as they get to play Indiana¹ at home. However, Wisconsin will have three of its last four games on the road including at Maryland², Minnesota³, and Ohio State.
This is Wisconsin’s best team in a long time, and I’ll bet every Wisconsinite would agree. This team is an early odds-on favorite to reach the Final Four in April.
¹Indiana is 11-1 at home this season.
²Maryland is 13-1 at home this season.
³Minnesota is 3-1 in last four at home against Wisconsin.