Bo Ryan is on the hot seat. No, he’s not in danger of losing his job, but according to ESPN College Basketball Analyst Jeff Goodman, the pressure is on the Wisconsin Badgers coach to go on a deep tournament run.
As Goodman writes (ESPN Insider subscription required) Bo Ryan trails only John Calipari in terms of the amount of pressure on each of the 16 coaches remaining in the NCAA Tournament.
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Calipari, of course, coaches the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, who are looking to be the first team to run the tables undefeated since the field expanded to 64 teams.
As Goodman wrote, “The Badgers pulled a shocker last season by getting within an Aaron Harrison shot of going to the national title game. They entered this season with lofty expectations after returning everyone except for Ben Brust.”
Certainly, Wisconsin Badgers fans have expected this Badgers team to go on a deep run, and as of right now, Ryan and his team have responded.
The next test? Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Williams comes in one slot behind Ryan on Goodman’s list at No. 3.
Let’s take a look at Wisconsin’s (and Ryan’s) tournament history to get a feel for the pressure currently on Bo Ryan.
Cincy on the Prowl
The Badgers have made the NCAA tournament 20 times in the school’s history, coming away champions once – in 1941.
Prior to Ryan’s tenure, Wisconsin had made it to the dance just seven times in the school’s history, and didn’t make the tournament from 1948 until 1994 following it’s championship run in 1941 and next NCAA tournament appearance in 1947.
Since Bo Ryan took the head coaching job in the 2001-02 season, the Badgers have never missed the NCAA tournament. That’s 14 straight trips. And Wisconsin hasn’t just made the tournament every year, they’ve competed well.
The Badgers have only been a double-digit seed once under Ryan, in 2009, when the 12-seed Wisconsin Badgers defeated the 5-seed Florida St. Seminoles in the first round thanks to a game-winner from Traevon Hughes. Wisconsin lost to Xavier in the next round.
Under Ryan, Wisconsin is 22-14 in the NCAA Tournament, and has only been eliminated in the first round twice (2006 and 2013). Under Ryan, the Badgers have seen their NCAA Tournament run end at the round of 32 five times, in the Sweet Sixteen five times, once in the Elite Eight (2005) and once in the Final Four (2014).
Counting the two wins this year, the Badgers are 31-19 all time in the NCAA tournament. Wisconsin has made three Final Fours (1941, 2001 and 2014) and is looking to go back for the second straight season, a feat the team has never accomplished.
The path isn’t easy – in theory the Badgers would have to face Arizona and then Kentucky in the Final Four if the top seeds hold – but this Wisconsin team is battle-tested and led by one of the best in the business on the court – Frank Kaminsky – and on the white-board – Bo Ryan.
The pressure may be on for Ryan, but so far, he’s living up to the challenge.