Since taking over the head coaching position at Wisconsin in 2001, Bo Ryan has seen an immense amount of success, winning 73% of their games. The Badgers have won conference tournament titles, conference regular season titles, and gone as far as the Elite Eight. However, the next step has eluded Ryan for some time.
Bo Ryan has never been to a Final Four. Well, up to tonight he hadn’t.
The pressure was certainly on the Badgers tonight. After starting off the regular season hot, winning sixteen straight games, including a major win against Florida, Wisconsin has had their eye on the prize. Tonight’s 64-63 win over Arizona validated all the work they’ve done this season.
The Badgers knew that the Elite Eight matchup against Arizona was not going to be easy. Arizona is a team that is solid at every position, with star guard and PAC-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson leading the way. Arizona has played excellent defense all season and has a great rebounding ability (which was showcased tonight with Aaron Gordon grabbing eighteen rebounds).
Tonight, Wisconsin’s answer was the same one they’ve provided all season: get solid ball movement and get the ball to Frank Kaminsky. The Badgers called on Kaminsky . . . and he answered. Kaminsky is a unique big man in that he’s tough enough to penetrate inside and get a tough lay-in, as well as nail a tough three point jumper. As Sean Miller said in his post-game interview with CBS’s Craig Sager, “The big fella for them was the difference . . . really unique, hard to guard. We didn’t have an answer for him.”
This game was close up final buzzer, with the two squads trading baskets to make it into overtime. In overtime, the teams traded threes, but the most memorable moment was with less than five seconds left, when Nick Johnson drove inside and was called for an offensive foul. As expected, Twitter exploded with a barrage of opinions on the foul, as many deemed it a poor call, especially at that juncture in the game.
Sean Miller on Nick Johnson’s charge, “I thought it was a really tough call. I’m going to stop there, I’ve already been fined.” lol
— Richie Melby (@richiemelby) March 30, 2014
Another terrible call decides Wisconsin vs Arizona game.That was a block.Or a no call. No way was that a charge vs Johnson.I’m impartial too
— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) March 30, 2014
— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) March 30, 2014
I've said this before, but if foul in the final 10 seconds, you've "decided the game", not the ref. Rules should be the same all 40 minutes.
— Jeff (BPredict) (@BPredict) March 30, 2014
Arizona managed to stay alive, however, by forcing John Gasser to turn it over (although, possession was originally ruled in Wisconsin’s favor, but was overturned after a lengthy review). Despite all of that, Johnson was unable to get a shot off with less than three seconds left, leading to a Badgers win.
Wisconsin will now head to Arlington, Texas, to face the winner of the Michigan-Kentucky game. The winner of that matchup will no doubt have a tough time with Kaminsky and the Badgers’s three point shooters–especially if Wisconsin can draw some of UK or Michigan’s big men out of the paint to defend Kaminsky.
It’s been a marvelous March for Bo Ryan, who could no doubt be happier to see this team–one with such amazing chemistry–continue on the road to a championship. They only need two more wins to do so.