So a preseason top 10 team advanced to the Sweet 16 while finishing second in the Big Ten and advanced to BTT championship. So why do I feel like this season was basically a failure?
Well for starters Wisconsin beat exactly one really good team this year. Basically every team with a pulse (and Ohio State), could (and if it was the month of February, would) beat this team. Teams returning 99% of their minutes and 98% of their points aren’t supposed to lose five out of six games in the middle of conference play, and they certainly aren’t supposed to need a herculean effort from Ethan Happ to escape Rutgers in overtime. The first half of that Rutgers game was terrible basketball. In a mystery probably lost to the cosmos at this point, Wisconsin despite seeming to have everything you’d want offense, was always good for a solid six minute scoring drought.
Wisconsin couldn’t manage to win a terrible, no good, very bad Big Ten despite bringing literally everyone of consequence back from a Sweet 16 team. The only team on paper that was arguably in a better position to win the conference was Indiana, and between a mountain of injuries and Tom Crean we all should’ve seen this season coming. Now “didn’t win the conference” doesn’t qualify quite as ugly unless you’re Ohio State football, but man, what missed opportunity.
Wisconsin’s full court last second defense is ugly, but I don’t have the heart to put it there. That was a great game, and Wisconsin had no business even getting that to overtime. So of course Chris Chiozza’s 23 foot floater was going to go down, I wasn’t even mad about Nigel Hayes playing ole defense on that, because of course Nigel Hayes would have his Wisconsin career end in disappointing fashion on a questionable play.
4 straight Sweet 16s is nothing to sneeze at, and as questionable as it was, this team was 21-3 at one point. Zak Showalter giving Aaron Rodgers the belt after tying the game against Florida will go down as one of the best moments in Wisconsin sports history. And for one fleeting afternoon, this team played as well as it could, beat expectations, and took down the reigning national champions.
Also curbstomping Minnesota to sweep them again on Senior Night was fun to watch. Stick to hockey Gophers, maybe one day you’ll have as many national titles as Wisconsin.