Wisconsin’s ‘Big Dance’ Recap
By: Ellen Buckley
We may still be recovering from the championship game loss because of what I like to call an emotional hangover. However, we can all agree that the Badgers won in many ways. They won the Big Ten tournament, are champions of the West region, and most importantly, they won over America’s hearts. This was shown through this year’s March Madness tournament that made Badger basketball more lovable and history making than any other team in the tournament.
Wisconsin had to beat some of the best teams in the country and they fought for every point and W they got. After defeating Coastal Carolina and Oregon, one of the biggest thrillers and one of the toughest games was against number four seed North Carolina. After being down by two at the half, the Badgers outscored the Tar Heels 48-39 in the second half. Zak Showalter came off the bench with the spark that Wisconsin needed scoring six points and creating turnovers to start their comeback run. UNC put Wisconsin in tough positions and forced them to take tough shots that just weren’t falling. Showing their grit, toughness, and getting key stops was what secured them a spot in the Elite Eight with a 79-72 win. To get them to the Final Four for the second year in a row, Wisconsin had to face #2 Arizona, the Badgers hit 10 of 12 3-point attempts resulting in a season high of 67% overall. This 85-78 win gave them the chance to go to the Final Four and seek redemption against Kentucky. They were facing a team who was undefeated, skilled, and motivated to make history by being the only undefeated champion since 1976. However, Wisconsin became the 1 in 38-1, clinching a trip to the national championship game with a 71-64 win over the #1 team in the Midwest region. Lastly, the Badgers faced Duke for the chance to be crowned National Champions. What looked like a slow start for both teams turned into a physical battle through all 40 minutes. With the game tied at half, it could have been anybody’s and no one could have predicted the 13 lead changes just in the first half. Wisconsin came out on fire in the second half and had a 9-point lead with 13 minutes left. Unfortunately, getting Jahlil Okafor in foul trouble didn’t stop the Blue Devils from tying the game with seven minutes left. Wisconsin fought for their points but got Duke to the free-throw line, which helped them extend the lead and ultimately win 68-63.
Above all this tournament, they showed what kind of team they are on and off the court. Off the court they are goofy, light-hearted, and best friends with each other. On the court they are one of the best teams in NCAA history. As shown by having 36 wins this season, only 10 other teams have done this, ever. The squad Wisconsin assembled this season is incomparable to any other. Between Wisconsin, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and North Carolina, they have the second most wins in two seasons, one conference championship, one tournament championship, seeded #1 and #2, made it to the Final Four twice and became the National Runner-Up. These are accomplishments that no other team will come close to for a long time.
Regardless of the outcome of the championship game, Badger Nation wants to thank this team, especially the seniors for the best season in 74 years. This team is the one that will be remembered beyond any other this season. We’re entertained, proud, and grateful for being a part of something so amazing. They made us believe.