Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers can top last year’s squad

Unlike last season when it was the first No. 1 versus No. 1
game in regular season history, there was no hype surrounding Wisconsin?s game
at Ohio State Sunday.

And unlike last season, Wisconsin got a win and left with
its Big Ten title hopes still intact.

No one will argue that last season was a magical year for
Wisconsin basketball. Hype surrounded the team all season long from its
preseason top 10 ranking and Sports Illustrated cover to earning the first No.
1 ranking in school history.


The team set numerous records last season as well, including
the most conference wins (13), wins in a season (30), home wins (19) and
longest winning streak (17).

But after reaching the top of the rankings, things started
to go downhill starting with the Ohio State game last season when Brian Butch
was lost for the remainder of the year. Yes, the Badgers made it to the Big Ten
tournament championship (and lost to Ohio State again) and earned a No. 2 seed ?
the highest in team history ? but lost in the second round when everyone expected
another Final Four trip.

Yet despite how magical last season was for Wisconsin
basketball fans, this year?s team has a chance to one-up last year?s squad.

With the loss of Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor, not much
was expected of this team; yet with two weeks remaining in the regular season
it controls its own destiny for at least a share of a Big Ten title. All UW has
to do is win out, and it clinches its first Big Ten title since 2002.

And now Wisconsin has a favorable schedule ahead of them
after going into Illinois and Ohio State and coming out with a pair of wins.
The Badgers face Michigan State Thursday at home in probably their toughest
test. Then they wrap up the season next week at home against Penn State (ninth
in the Big Ten) and on the road against Northwestern (last in the Big Ten).

Of the three teams still in the title hunt ? Indiana, Purdue
and Wisconsin ? UW also seems to have the most momentum going forward. The
Badgers have won four in a row, including three on the road, while Purdue lost
its last time out to Indiana, and the Hoosiers are still dealing with the
Kelvin Sampson controversy and almost lost to last-place Northwestern Saturday.

In addition to having momentum, the Badgers also have the
easiest schedule down the stretch. UW has three games remaining, with two at
home and one on the road. The combined record of its opponents is 41-37. While
both Indiana and Purdue have four games left (two at home and two on the road),
Purdue?s opponents have a combined record of 64-41, and Indiana faces opponents
with a 68-38 record.

Besides the possibility of winning a third Big Ten title
under Bo Ryan, this year?s squad also has a chance to break the records set
just one year ago.

They have already broken a 94-year-old school record with
their win over Ohio State. The win Sunday pushed UW?s conference road record to
7-1 this season, the most ever. They also are the only team in the country with
two road wins against top 15 teams (Texas and Indiana).

But with three games remaining, Ryan?s squad is almost
assured to break one record and has a good shot of breaking and, at the very
least, tying another.

Wisconsin will not reach the top of the rankings this year
unless they win it all, but with one more win over the last three games, UW
will set a record for conference wins at 14.

The Badgers also have a shot of reaching the 30-win plateau
again this season. Should Wisconsin win out, it will have 26 wins heading into
the postseason. Wisconsin then would at the very worst be a two-seed in the Big
Ten tournament should they share the conference title with Purdue.

So then if UW makes it to the championship game, it would at
most need two wins in the NCAA tournament to reach 30. And unlike last year,
Wisconsin?s opponents can?t focus all its energy on shutting down one player,
which bodes well for the tournament.

While only time will tell if the Badgers are able to top
last year?s squad, 10 years from now when fans look back at this two-year run
of Wisconsin basketball, this year?s squad might end up being the team fans
remember more.


is a senior majoring communication arts. Let him know what season will be more
memorable at
[email protected]

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