If you take a look at the preseason Top 25 poll released by USA Today last week, it’s easy to notice the hype surrounding Big Ten teams such as the Indiana Hoosiers, Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines.
All three teams are in the top five, and judging by everything we know about them heading into the season, their rankings are well-deserved.
The only other team from the conference recognized in the preseason poll is the Wisconsin Badgers. And you have to go to almost the bottom of the poll to to find them. The Badgers are sitting at No. 21.
I’ve covered sports long enough to know that polls have the value of a campaign promise from a presidential candidate.
But I do think the Badgers deserve a little more respect than what they have received heading into the 2012-13 season.
Wisconsin finished 26-10 last year. It was fourth in the Big Ten with a 12-6 record and marched all the way to the Sweet 16 before bowing out against the Syracuse Orange.
The Badgers have one of the best coaches in the business in Bo Ryan, who is 268-101 in 11 seasons in Madison.
They have a few potential stars in guys like Ryan Evans, Josh Gasser and Jared Berggren, and the they have players in the lineup who simply understand their roles and play them to the best of their ability.
Wisconsin also hangs its hat on being a a thorn in a team’s side defensively. The Badgers led the nation in fewest points allowed (53.2 per game) and when a team can play defense that well, it’s hard to ignore its potential to be a contender.
But maybe the Badgers are typically overlooked because they aren’t as flashy as some of the other high-profile teams in the country.
The Badgers only put up 64 points per game last season, an average that doesn’t exactly turn heads.
Still, I think the Badgers deserve more credit for their consistency and success, So yeah, they are a little under-rated.
But you know what? There is only one way to prove people wrong, and that is to do it on the basketball court.
Wisconsin is under-rated on paper, but I have a feeling the Badgers will change a few minds by their performances night in and night out this year.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.