Wisconsin Badgers forward Ryan Evans had the game of his life while leading the Badgers with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocks in a 68-57 win over the top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers.
The Badgers had an underwhelming end to the regular season with a home loss to Purdue and a needed buzzer-beater to fend off lowly Penn State. Yet, they’ve taken the United Center by storm and are one win away from winning the Big Ten Tournament in a year the conference reigns over the college basketball world.
After beating Indiana for the 12th straight time and holding the Hoosiers to a season-low 56 points, Wisconsin’s head coach Bo Ryan said it best:
Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers are one of the hottest teams entering the NCAA Tournament. They are 4-0 this year against conference juggernauts Indiana and Michigan to give the school their first-ever four wins over top-ten teams in a single season. They also have a total of seven wins vs. the AP Top 25, a mark matched by only Indiana.
For that reason, the Wisconsin Badgers should be comfortably relaxing when the selection committee in Indianapolis reviews their resume on Sunday. With the two significant wins in Chicago, Wisconsin should be a lock for at least a four seed, a very familiar spot for them. Here’s their recent past in the big dance:
2011-12: #4 seed and 73-49 win over #13 Montana
2010-11: #4 seed and 72-58 win over #13 Belmont
2009-10: #4 seed and 53-49 win over #13 Wofford
2008-09: #12 seed and 61-59 win over #5 Florida State
2007-08: #3 seed and 71-56 win over #14 Cal State Fullerton
So yes, Bo has figured out a way to automatically lock up the four seed for his team, something he’s done over the past three seasons including two back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16.
Wisconsin has an outside chance of grabbing a three seed if they are to win the Big Ten Tournament Championship with a win over another quality opponent in Ohio State. The kicker is whether the committee will have them slotted to do so as they’ve stated in the past that it’s difficult to consider the win because the game actually occurs as they finish constructing the bracket.
Ryan, the Big Ten’s coach of the year, has made the NCAA tournament in all 12 seasons he’s been in Madison and knows he has a Wisconsin Badgers team that may not be as athletic as opposing teams, but one that can surely outwork any team in the country.
Here’s a peek into the method to his madness:
“You just have to play the percentages, you’ve got to keep driving, you’ve got to keep working it, and when you’re surrounded with good people, it sure makes it a lot easier. It’s never easy, just makes it easier.”
What do you think of the Wisconsin Badgers? Are they a serious threat in the NCAA Tournament? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Pictures obtained from wausaudailyherald.com and kirotv.com