The true blue game of basketball comes shining through this time of year – and not just for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Teams who don’t turn it over, score with efficiency and don’t get rattled, do well.
Miss key free throws, tank it offensively and give teams too many chances, and you’re likely to get burned.
Only four schools have earned the right to keep playing in the tourney which delineates the best of the best in the world of college hoops.
The Wisconsin Badgers are one of them. And while head coach Bo Ryan comes into this weekend looking for his fifth overall National Championship, it would be his first at the Division 1 level and first for the University of Wisconsin since 1941.
“We are proud to represent the University and the State of Wisconsin,” Ryan said at his Wednesday press conference, in Arlington. “We just want our players to have the most of this experience.”
With a 64-63 overtime win against No. 1 seeded Arizona in the Elite Eight, Wisconsin advanced to the Final Four for the third time in school history. After guiding the Badgers to the NCAA tournament in each of his ﬁrst 13 seasons at UW, Ryan makes his first appearance at the Final Four. It’s Wisconsin’s first since the year 2000 when Dick Bennett made his famous run into March.
Looking back through the numbers, the Badgers began the season with the best start in school history while rising to No. 3 in the AP polls and rolling off a 16-game win streak.
Then, the bottom fell out. Bucky dropped 5 of 6 games in late January and early February before coming back to win 8 straight games and 13 of their last
Looking at the ups and downs, Ryan said there’s not much most teams are trying to do different this time of year.
O”ur teams are who they are,” he said. “We aren’t changing from last week.”
Ryan said it’s managing his players, more than the game, that becomes key in the tourney. Especially inside a venue such as AT&T Stadium which will host some 70,000 fans tomorrow.
“Once the ball is thrown up, you still have to manage emotions and energy and try and channel it the right way,” Ryan said. “We try to encourage our players to take it all in, but when it comes time to play, it’s time.”
Overall, Wisconsin has won 30 games for just the 3rd time in school history. Bo has a lot to do with that – his teams are responsible for each of the 10 highest single-season win totals in Badgers history.
It’s really hard to deny the fact the Badgers have gone about it the easy way this year. Their resume speaks for itself:
• UW is 13-4 against the NCAA tournament field
• UW is 8-2 against teams in the AP top 25
• UW is 17-0 against teams outside the Big Ten
• UW has wins over 7 conference champions: Arizona (Pac-12), Virginia (ACC), Florida (SEC), Michigan (Big Ten), Saint Louis (A-10), Green Bay (Horizon) & E. Kentucky (OVC)
• UW is 16-4 away from home (8-3 on the road, 8-1 neutral).
Known as the defensive stalwart, UW has shown it can win a variety of ways. They are the only team in the country this season to have won while scoring in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s 90’s and hundreds.
Don’t let that fool you, it still plays great defense and leads the nation in fewest turnovers, however the team boasts its best offense since 1994.
Wisconsin is averaging 73.9 ppg while ranking 5th in the nation in offensive efficiency.
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