There have been many great athletes that have come through the various Wisconsin Badgers sports programs. Some have landed in the Badgers very own Hall of Fame. The 2014 class was just released and it is far from lacking star power. Headlining that class is Mike Kelley (basketball), who will be joined by Steve Bennett (baseball), Chris McIntosh (football), Beau Hoopman (rowing), Steve Reinprecht (hockey), Melissa Zimpfer (tennis) and Steve Lowe (volleyball coach).
Kelley of course was part of that very memorable-and magical-run to the Final Four in 2000. Without Kelley, the 1999-00 would have had absolutely no shot of making it to the Final Four. For those that do not remember (or are too young to even know what I am talking about), the Badgers entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 8 seed and given pretty much no chance to advance whatsoever. But they defeated Fresno St. in the first round and upset No. 1 seed Arizona to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
From there Kelley and company took down No. 4 LSU, holding them to only 48 points with their typical shut down defense. The Elite Eight saw the Badgers take on a familiar face in the Purdue Boilermakers. A 64-60 victory there and Wisconsin found themselves in the Final Four. Unfortunately they would fall to the eventual national champion Michigan State for an unprecedented FOURTH loss to the Spartans.
Kelley may have only averaged five points per game and 3.2 assists that year, but his tenacious defense coupled with his outstanding leadership was a big part in the Badgers making a very memorable trip to the Final Four and one many people still talk about to this day.
On Friday, September 5 the 2014 Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame Class will officially be inducted in Heritage Hall at Camp Randall Stadium. The next day, the Badgers home opener against Illinois, the class will also be recognized on the field of Camp Randall.