So recently we went over the worst Badger basketball season ending losses in the last ten seasons. Now I'd like to be a little more positive and go over the top NCAA tournament wins in the last ten seasons. Since I botched making the last list suspenseful I will list in reverse order this time with ten coming first and then down to one. How lame of me before. Also I forgot to note last time, feel free to leave comments and put your thoughts in if you disagree. I'd like to hear if anyone has any other thoughts than my own (really). I also think this is much harder. As much as great big wins are, I think it's always easier to remember the losses. So enough rambling, on to the rankings.
The First Round Games:
14. St. Johns (9) 1st Round 2002 80-70
Why?: Not a very exciting game although it was Bo's first tournament win with Wisconsin.
13. Weber State (12) 1st Round 2003 81-74
Why?: Game was never as close as the score indicated. Wisconsin was up 15 at half and coasted to a victory.
12. Fresno State (9) 1st Round 2000 66-56
Why?: The win that got it all started for the Final Four team, but even with being down four at half and 7 three pointers by Jon Bryant it was only ho-hum.
11. Richmond (11) 1st Round 2004 76-64
Why?: The game before the worst loss was a little too close in the first half when they were down 13 in the first half, but scoring 51 in the 2nd half made this somewhat of a blah game. No standout memories from this either.
10. Cal State-Fullerton (14) 1st Round 2008 71-56
Why?: It's fresher in the mind than the honorable mention games. The game was 31-30 for the first possession after half. A guy (Josh Akognon) scored 31 of Fullerton's 56 points. There really isn't anything too exciting about a 3 seed beating a 14 in the first round usually. This was no exception.
9. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (15) 1st Round 2007 76-63
Why?: Same thing as the Fullerton game. The Islanders kept it competitive early even being up 18 points in the first half. Second half was a different story and the Badgers won comfortably, but even with the scary first half the game, not that great or memorable.
8. Northern Iowa (11) 1st Round 2005 57-52
Why?: This is the last of the 1st Round games. None of these first seven have been really all that exciting, which is part of Wisconsin being the favored team in every game. They have either been the higher seed or in the 8/9 game. This game was much closer than the others as They pulled out the game with only having been up 3 with 4 seconds left before icing the game with some clutch free throws.
7. Bucknell (14) 2nd Round 2005 71-62
Why?: Ok so the game wasn't all that close, but Bucknell did have a 44-43 lead at one point. It's a second round game though which if the first round game isn't a buzzer beater or upset is almost guaranteed to be better.
6. Kansas State (11) 2nd Round 2008 72-55
Why?: This game was pretty great because of the dominating that the Badgers did against Michael Beasley in the second half. I was not a fan of Beasley and still am not. This was also fun because we had a big basketball party at my house and it included Kevin's halftime rendition of "Rocket Man" and also a stupid quiz game in which I dominated.
5. LSU (4) Sweet Sixteen 2000 61-48
Why?: I couldn't put 3 of the 2000 games in the top 4 and a pretty dominating win. The Badgers held future NBA-er Stromile Swift to only four field goal attempts. That in itself is pretty amazing let alone holding a four seed and the tenth ranked team in the country to 48 points. A great game and win but only the third best win of this year.
4. Tulsa (13) 2nd Round 2003 61-60
Why?: Two words: Freddie Owens. The second highest rated game that's a second rounder, but it was a huge win. The win set up a date with #1 team in the country Kentucky and also it was a one point victory with shot made by one second left. Not only was it a game winner it was a 3 pointer for the win rather than the 2 to tie. I remember just being in utter shock after that of all people it was one of the favorite whipping boys Freddie Owens or as I called him for some reason Fred-Ro. Good times.
3. North Carolina State (10) Sweet Sixteen 2005 65-56
Why?: Big win over the Julius Hodge led team. A game where Wisconsin was down 9 at half and as I mentioned before I was lighting newspaper on fire at half because I was disgusted. Then they come out and score 41 points in the second half for a big win and a date with UNC and we all know how that turned out.
2. Purdue (6) Elite Eight 2000 64-60
Why?: No explanation needed, it got the team to the Final Four and against a conference opponent nonetheless. Jon Bryant again is the man. 5-9 on threes, just a killer in this tournament. Also, they beat a team with Brian Cardinal on it, not a bad thing at all. Purdue was ranked 25 at the time also. Badgers were 2-1 against Purdue prior to this game, so 3-1 on the season.
1. Arizona (1) 2nd Round 2000 66-59
Why?: Number eight seed Wisconsin plays against 4th ranked team in the country and number 1 seed Arizona. Not a soul in the world thought the Badgers would win this game, myself included. It doesn't matter that Loren Woods didn't play in this game, biggest win in the last ten years hands down. Badgers leading scorers that game were Vershaw with 15 and our old friend Maurice Linton 14. I just remember being so excited after this game.
So there you have it. As promised, not as fun as the loss list, but a solid list still. I guess that since they have only made the Elite Eight twice during this time, there aren't as many memorable wins as demoralizing losses. That's just how it is though, negative is easier to think about than positive sometimes. Coming next in the Badger lists? Don't know yet, but it will be a good one. Thanks for reading and this was completed while listening to Bill Simmons podcasts from ESPN.com and then an Adam Carolla podcast from the new website carollaradio.com check out the one from 2-27 with Simmons. Check it out, it's great stuff. In a related story I am also glad that I know longer look like that, wow.