First enjoy the ride, then MEET THE WILDCATS
Before we dive into Wisconsin’s next opponent, who we certainly hope is the first of two consecutive Wildcats, let’s just take a moment to step back and really enjoy what’s happening right now. Are you ready? 3, 2, 1…
The Badgers are back in the Elite 8 for the second consecutive year, a feat never before accomplished by Wisconsin since the tournament’s expansion to 64 teams in 1985. Prior to last year, they hadn’t gotten this far since 2005. So, win or lose on Saturday, this has been incredible, and I want you to enjoy it. Because this is sports, and sports is supposed to be fun. Of course we want more, but let’s not forget to enjoy the ride.
Obviously, this is by far the most talented Badgers roster in the expansion era. But more than that…this team is fun. You love them. I love them. Frank, Sam, Nigel…they’re not only bright stars and locks to be first round picks (but maybe, just maybe, not until 2016, in the case of Sam and Nigel), they’re characters. Just, just LOOK at this:
Are you kidding me Nigel? This is the 100% most endearing moment in sports history (no that is not hyperbole). Nigel is just like us! He thinks girls are pretty too! He accidentally tells an entire room and, subsequently, the entire nation about it too! He has to bury his face in his hands in embarrassment too! I LOVE you Nigel. Never, ever change. How about Sam and Frank, you following them on Twitter? How about the rest of the team? WHY THE HECK NOT!?
Hilarious that I have two exams tomorrow. Had a lot of time to study this weekend
— Sam Dekker (@samdek1) March 16, 2015
Katy Perry time!! 😍😍
— Frank Kaminsky III (@FSKPart3) February 2, 2015
I think it’s good to be reminded that these guys are just kids. They’re 19, 20, 21 years old, and they are out there on the big stage, and rather than letting the pressure crush them, they’re out there having the time of their lives. I love this team, so much. Thank you, the 2015 Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball team.
Now then, on with it.
How did they get here?
Arizona blew through their half of the West bracket with relative ease, cruising past #15 Texas Southern and #10 Ohio St. with 21 and 15 point wins, respectively. Xavier gave them a bit of a scare, keeping up with the ‘Cats in what was a one possession game throughout until about two minutes left, when Arizona pulled away slightly for an eight point win.
Arizona earned the automatic bid from the Pac-12 as a result of winning their conference tournament, which was of course a mere formality. The Wildcats were a top-10 team throughout the season. None of the three teams that beat them this season had winning conference records, so they are obviously very bad and vastly overrated.
Who is their best player?
Freshman forward Stanley Johnson is the guy whose name is on the marquee. But Arizona is very similar to Wisconsin and Kentucky in that their entire starting five is strong. T.J. McConnell is very good at basketball. Brandon Ashley is very good at basketball. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is very good at basketball. Kaleb Tarczewski is very good at basketball. No one in their starting lineup averages less than nine points per game. Additionally, none of them are as good at basketball as Frank Kaminsky III.
Can the Wildcats beat Wisconsin?
Yeah, sure they could. But they just better not.
Just exactly WHAT is happening in that picture up there, Trav?
Oh, I’ll feed you, baby birds. That photo was taken during the 2006 marriage renewal of vows ceremony undertaken by U of A’s mascots, Wilbur and Wilma. They were first married in 1986, just eight months after they met at Wilma’s debut — you don’t usually expect a marriage that is rushed like that to work out, but damn it if they aren’t still going strong 28 years later. Wilbur mainly handles men’s basketball and football, and is normally found wearing the uniform of whichever sport he is actively supporting. Wilma’s main focuses are women’s basketball and volleyball, but she pretty much only wears her cheerleading outfit, because Arizona is filled with old white men who remain unaware that some women like and participate in sports.
What is the best case scenario?
A repeat of last year’s Elite Eight meeting between these two schools when the seeds were flipped, a back-and-forth thriller that the Badgers won in overtime. That game too was in California, though in that case the home-court advantage held by Arizona was actually fair, given the seeding. Kaminsky put up 28 and 11 in the Badgers’ 64-63 OT win last year, but the Badgers will need to have great games from all their stars; both of these teams are improved over last year.
What is the worst case scenario?
Up two with 4.9 remaining in the game, Kaminsky steps to the line to shoot two and seal the game. Both shots miss, with the second agonizingly circling the rim twice before falling off. McConnell grabs the rebound and outlets to Johnson, who darts past half court and sinks a 35-foot prayer with Gasser’s hand down his throat. Wisconsin sports fans are left picking up the pieces as certain victory is replaced with agonizing defeat for the third time in 12 months.