The Wisconsin Badgers look the part of a team that is poised to make a deep run in next month’s NCAA tournament.
With today’s 79-74 road win in Iowa City over the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Badgers have now won five-straight Big Ten Conference games and are starting to play their best basketball at the right time. Big man Frank Kaminsky tallied 21 points and seven rebounds in the winning effort while Sam Dekker recorded a double-double scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 boards. Roy Devyn Marble had 21 points in the Hawkeye defeat.
Last month, Bo Ryan‘s team underwent a brutal stretch in which they lost five out of six games. Everyone in Madison entered panic mode and the once third-ranked team in the country appeared destined for a serious collapse. Wisconsin couldn’t buy a win at the Kohl Center and the always tough Badger defense was nonexistent. That terrific 16-0 start to the season vanished in a hurry and Ryan and company fell all the way out of the AP rankings.
Fast forward three weeks and the Badgers are the Big Ten’s hottest team. This five-game winning streak has put them back in play for a conference championship and is positioning them to be a major player come March Madness. Kaminsky continues to blossom into one of the better scoring big men in all of college basketball and Dekker’s versatility provides a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches in every single game. Throw in Ben Brust, Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson and then try to find me a more complete starting five in America.
So is Wisconsin back to being the team that everyone was so quick to call Bo Ryan’s best ever? I say yes, and maybe not in terms of talent, but in the depth that they have and variety of ways in which they can beat their opponents — it absolutely is.
Ryan is a proven winner and no teams play smarter basketball than his. In a season where college basketball clearly lacks a dominant team, the NCAA tournament might just provide us with a champion that is smart, cohesive, experienced and very well coached.
Sounds a lot like the Wisconsin Badgers to me.
Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27.