The question that is in the back of every Wisconsin basketball fans mind is will this finally be the Badgers’ year?
Of course, almost every college basketball program and their fans could be asking that same question about their teams as they enter the 2014 NCAA Tournament. What differentiates these Badgers’ from the rest of the field is that this is arguably head coach Bo Ryan’s most talented squad to dance in March.
Wisconsin was awarded a favorable, but questionable No. 2 seed in the West region of the bracket on selection Sunday. The Badgers’ are set to face off against the No.15 seed American University of the Patriot League on Thursday, March 20th at 12:40 PM ET. This will pretty much be a home game for the Badgers’ as the game will be played at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
This will be the Wisconsin Badgers 13th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance under head coach Bo Ryan, who has a tournament record of 16-12 all time. Could this be the year Bo Ryan cements his legacy in Badger history by taking his team to the Final Four in Arlington, Texas?
Ryan’s Wisconsin basketball team has been streaky all season long. The Badgers started their season 16-0 before falling to Indiana and then went on to finish their regular season 9-1. Wisconsin could very well be one of the most dangerous teams in the field if they get hot early on because when this team starts streaking, they mean business.
Bo Ryan will more than likely go with the same starting line-up as he did in all 33 games this season. Traevon Jackson, Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky will start things off for Wisconsin, but the play of the freshmen Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig will be detrimental to the Badgers’ success. Hayes was awarded the Big Ten’s 6th Man of the Year award and his play-making ability could be what gets this team streaking again at the right time.
The West region may very well be one of the weaker regions in the tournament this year. Top seeded Arizona’s toughest match-up could come in the round of 32 if Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State can escape Gonzaga. After that, Arizona pretty much can punch their tickets to play in the Elite 8. Wisconsin’s toughest match-up could possibly come in a Sweet 16 showdown against No.3 seed Creighton, if they get there that is. Wisconsin has struggled defensively against teams top scorers and Doug McDermott could very well be the Badgers’ worst nightmare.
If Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers can catch fire and gain momentum early in the tournament, they could make a run at getting to the Final Four in Arlington. How the Badgers play against the American Eagles in the first round will mimic how far this team can go.