Top 10 Badger Moments of 2014: 1. Wisconsin’s Memorable Run to the Final Four


Well this is it. The year 2014 certainly was one to remember for numerous reasons and the Wisconsin Badgers gave us plenty to cheer about. As quickly as this year has flown by, so has our Top 10 Badger Moments of 2014 countdown. We now find ourselves at the top moment from this past year and it was one that many have waited for, oh let’s say, 14 years to be exact. Wisconsin making a magical run to the Final Four is our number one moment of this past year.

You had a sense at the beginning of the season that something special was going to happen. Wisconsin reeled off an impressive 16 straight wins to start the season. However, in the middle of January, the Badgers would go on to lose five of their next six games, including being upset by Northwestern and a heartbreaking one point loss to Ohio State, both at home.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

But it was after that where you really found out the toughness of this team. Those five losses did not deter this team in reaching their goal. Wisconsin would then record eight-straight victories, including wins over Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa. All three teams at the time were ranked inside the top 15.

Bo Ryan would get his 700th victory of his career against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament-and essentially costing them a spot in the NCAA Tournament-but a disappointing loss to Tom Izzo and the Spartans would leave a sour taste in many people’s mouths.

The Badgers would enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the West Region. After dismantling American 75-35, Wisconsin would go on to face Oregon for a shot at the Sweet Sixteen. It wasn’t an easy task as Wisconsin would find themselves down 12 to the Ducks at the half. But after holding Oregon to just 28 second half points, Wisconsin would rally back and go on to a thrilling 85-77 victory. Frank Kaminsky would lead the Badgers with 19 points, but it was Ben Brust’s three pointer with just over a minute left that would seal the deal for Ryan’s squad.

In what was supposed to be a good showdown in the Sweet Sixteen between Baylor and Wisconsin was nothing of the sort. Baylor’s zone that worked so well in the opening rounds was no match for the Badgers. Kaminsky would score a game-high 19 points and Brust would hit three three-pointers for 14 points as the Badgers would cruise to a 69-52 victory and a date with Arizona for a shot at the Final Four.

The Elite Eight showdown with Arizona would end up being one of the better games of the tournament and an instant classic. It was a heavyweight fight as the Wildcats and Badgers would engage in a very physical matchup. The game would also feature some of the nation’s top talent as Kaminsky and Sam Dekker would square off against Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson.

Regulation would see the game go back and forth, and be one of the more physical games that Wisconsin had played all season. However, much of the Badgers offense was non-existent with the exception of Kaminsky. He really showed in this game just why he was regarded as one of the best players in the nation. Kaminsky would lead all scorers with 28 points and would add a team-high 11 rebounds. The game would go into overtime as Kaminsky would continue is offensive dominance, but Arizona always had an answer. It would be the final seconds that would add the most drama in this game. With just seconds left, Wisconsin would inbound the ball to try to seal the deal. However a mad scramble would ensue in front of Arizona’s bench and it seemed the ball would go back to the Badgers. After a lengthy review-and I mean very lenghty-the ball would go back to Arizona. They would fail to get a shot off before time expired, losing to the Badgers 64-63, and send Wisconsin into the Final Four for the first time since 2000.

There they would face a very pesky Kentucky team loaded with freshmen talent. Another physical, back and forth game again for Wisconsin as anytime one team would score the other would have an answer. The Badgers would find themselves up at the half 40-36 but it wouldn’t be long before Kentucky would have an answer. Wisconsin would be held scoreless for 4:30, but only find themselves down six. The game would then go back and forth once again until the 6:17 mark when Traevon Jackson would finish a three-point play to give the Badgers a five point lead. But Kentucky would storm back and the game was tied until Jackson would hit two big free throws to give the Badgers a 73-71. Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison would break Wisconsin’s heart as he nailed a three pointer with Josh Gasser in his face to give the Wildcats a 74-73 lead with six seconds left. Jackson would fail to hit a jumper at the end of regulation and it would be Kentucky going on to play for a national championship.

Although the final game did not turn out how many in Wisconsin though it would, it was certainly a run that many of us will remember for years to come. Kaminsky earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the West Region and Ryan would finally coach in a Final Four and not just be a spectator. After such a remarkable run, the Badgers are poised to make another such run this season with a lot of talent returning.

Relive all 10 of our moments here:

10. Badger Men’s Cross Country Wins 47th Big Ten Conference Title

9. Alex Rigsby Nets 100th Win

8. Bo Ryan Joins 700 Win Club

7. Volleyball Reaches Elite Eight for Second Straight Year

6. Ex Badgers Thrive in NFL

5. Badgers Win Inaugural Big Ten Hockey Tournament

4. Melvin Gordon Sets Rushing Record…For a Week

3. Paul Chryst Named New Badgers Head Coach

2. Melvin Gordon With a Memorable Season

1. Badgers Run to the Final Four