Bo Ryan has never been one to back down from a challenge. And that challenge this week is fellow coach Roy Williams.
With names like John Calipari, Rick Pitino and others seemingly stealing the spotlight this week, heading into the Sweet 16, it seems odd to this writer that the least talked about coaching duo is Ryan and Williams.
Ryan of course is no stranger to the routine.
Though his critical comments this week in regards to the NCAA scheduling and timing of games in the West Regional have made him a few headlines, seemingly no one seems to remember the job the 2015 Big Ten coach of the year has continually done with his program over the past 14 seasons.
No one, that is, besides us here at home and of course, his counterpart this Thursday, Roy Williams.
Of college coaches with 700 or more wins, Ryan’s career winning percentage of .759 (704-224) is seventh all-time.
Among those who coached Div. I only John Wooden, Williams, Jerry Tarkanian, Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski have a better overall winning percentage.
Not too shabby for a guy whose runs at UW-Platteville were well documented, but unheralded until lately.
Cincy on the Prowl
The Badgers have been no stranger at all when it comes to the NCAA tournament.
As a matter of fact, you’d say it’s become the expectation of Ryan and his teams, who in 14 seasons have never missed out on the Big Dance.
Throughout that time, UW owns a 22-13 (.629) record and has advanced to seven Sweet 16’s, two Elite Eight’s and the 2014 Final Four.
Any other win from here on out is just continuing the legacy of the greatest coach to ever roam the hardwood for the Cardinal and White.
Thursday’s game will mark the 3rd-ever meeting between Wisconsin and North Carolina.
In the previous two meetings, the Tar Heels won each, including a 60-57 win in Chapel Hill, N.C. in the 2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge (Nov. 30, 2011).
The other meeting actually came inside the tourney in 2005 with a spot in the Final Four on the line.
UW would come up on the short end of a 88-82 contest, but this time around the setting is a little different.
The ties between these two teams and their coaches is outrageous.
Sam Dekker, Bronson Koenig and J.P. Tokoto were AAU teammates with the Playground Warriors, a Wisconsin-based national program, while Marcus Paige’s sister, Morgan, played basketball at Wisconsin from 2011-14.
Looking at the sidelines, there is plenty of prestige there.
Among active Division 1 coaches, Williams (750-201) and Ryan (737-227) rank 4th and 5th, respectively on the all-time wins list.
After winning both the regular season and conference tourney championships, Ryan deservedly earned his fourth Big Ten Coach of the Year honor, as voted on by the Big Ten coaches.
Ryan now trails only former Purdue head coach Gene Keady (7) and former Indiana head coach Bob Knight (5) in being awarded that honor.