With a 3-6 conference record, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team will certainly be making a tournament.
Sadly, however, I do not think it will be the NCAA Tournament.
In a league that is the most competitive as it has been in years, the Badgers might be the odd man out come March. They currently sit at ninth place in the conference going into Thursday’s game against No. 23 Illinois. If the Badgers do win their first game since Jan. 7, there might be a fighting chance. However, a six-game losing streak isn’t helping their chances. Neither is a 4-5 record in games decided by four points or fewer.
Sure, dissenters may say they have the third-toughest schedule in the country, with only Georgetown in the Big East and Tennessee in the SEC having played tougher schedules. But losses to teams like Connecticut or Marquette aren’t going to hurt them — it is the overtime loss to Iowa and the three-point loss to Northwestern that the selection committee is going to look at to decide if the Badgers deserve a spot in the tournament.
At the end of the day, however, the Badgers will be playing in the postseason. They automatically get a bid to the conference tournament, and we might even see them in a home game in the NIT Tournament. But, in one of the best seasons of Big Ten play in recent memory, it looks like the Badgers’ bubble might be burst.
Will the Badgers make the NCAA Tournament this season?
I’ve got two words for you: Bo Ryan.
The man with the plan, the coach who has turned duds into diamonds and the same guy who single-handedly changed every sports fans’ opinions about the Wisconsin basketball program.
You think he’s going to let one of his teams play in the NIT? I don’t think so.
Sure, the Badgers are in a bit of a funk right now, but look at their situation with the glass half-full. The Badgers have lost six straight games but were also in a position to take the lead down the stretch in all but one of those games.
And if they don’t get that at-large bid, there’s still that little Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis they’ll be playing in beforehand — the same tournament they dominated last year, albeit with a different squad.
In seven straight seasons since Ryan took over the program, Wisconsin has made the NCAA Tournament. I don’t think anything will change this year, and even though it doesn’t look so good for Bo’s Bunch right now, remember that the Badgers still have three more games against ranked opponents, and if they win the big ones, they can still be in the hunt for the big dance even before the Big Ten Tournament.
NIT? I don’t think so. NCAA Tournament? Just ask Bo.