It goes without saying that Badger fans were heartbroken following the team’s heartbreaking 61-56 loss Friday in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
They were sad — very, very sad.
But I am here to tell you, as hard as it may be, to stop being sad because, believe it or not, others in the college basketball world are going through a much tougher time than you are. Badger fans continue to weep after a season of overachieving went wrong in 20 seconds, while other programs severely underachieved.
Here are three things to consider as you stop crying over Wisconsin’s crushing defeat:
Brazzoni: Missed opportunities paved way for Wisconsin’s heartbreaking collapseFollowing the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s epic collapse against Notre Dame Friday March 25 in the NCAA Sweet Read…
1. Look at Kansas
Kansas was easily the most consistent and well-rounded team all season in college hoops. They were a senior-led team that shot as well from the outside as they did on the inside. The Jayhawks were also the clear favorite to win the national championship.
There was plenty of optimism in a championship or bust year for Kansas, as fans were confident their team would return to the top for the first time since 2008.
Head coach Bill Self and his Jayhawks, however, choked in the Elite Eight. It was one of the more impressive seasons in Kansas’ recent history and they didn’t even have a Final Four to show from it. Talk about actual disappointment.
The state of Kansas right now… 😭 pic.twitter.com/jWSvvGvUzi
— Fake SportsCenter (@FakeSportsCentr) March 27, 2016
But not all is lost for Kansas, as while they lose their best player in forward Perry Ellis to graduation, every other important piece to their roster will likely return for another year in the program.
2. Look at Virginia
The stage was set for the Cavaliers.
Michigan State, who has been the program’s kryptonite for the past two NCAA tournaments, unexpectedly lost in the first round to No. 15 Middle Tennessee. The next best team, Utah, was blown out by Gonzaga in the next round. After blowing past Iowa State in the Sweet 16, the only thing keep head coach Tony Bennett from the Final Four he has craved for years was a Syracuse team that many thought should have never been in the tournament.
Naturally, in true Virginia fashion, the Cavaliers blew a 16-point lead against the Orange in the second half of their regional semifinal.
Now, after losing its two top scorers, including one of the country’s best players in guard Malcolm Brogdon, Bennett and Virginia will have to work to replace nearly half of its scoring output.
Another year, another missed Final Four for Bennett — despite once again having one of the most talented teams in the country — and another year of depressed Virginia fans.
3. Look at Wisconsin
It’s been the narrative following this team all tournament: This team is overachieving after pulling off one of the most improbable turnarounds in the history of the sport.
They lost to Xavier, a team that they were probably better than, but it also took a pair of miracle outside shots from junior guard Bronson Koenig for them to be in that situation.
The fact is they lost, and while underachieving teams like Kansas and Virginia will lose key pieces to their failed championship runs, the Badgers will not only likely return every player in their rotation next season, but they also add one piece many fans are forgetting about.
Freshman forward Andy Van Vliet out of Belgium will be eligible to play next season, adding yet another offensive threat from both the inside and outside. Van Vliet is skilled far beyond his years, and after adding a bit of muscle to his 6-foot-11 frame this offseason, he will be more than ready for his sophomore season.
Wipe your tears away and rest easy, Badger fans. The future is bright, and that’s not a luxury many other programs have at the moment.