Sunday, January 13, 2013

Will Wisconsin Make the Tournament?

Prior to yesterday's win over Illinois, many Badger fans were ready to give up on the season. Even now, the Badgers remain "on the bubble," (according to bracketologists) and there are questions whether the team can keep alive its streak of NCAA tournament appearances. On that question, here are some facts to consider:

1) Most agree that the Badgers are a lock if they go 9-9 in the Big Ten. For the Badgers to go 8-10 in Big Ten play would mean losing 10 of their their next 15 games. Such a stretch has occurred only once in the Bo Ryan era, when they lost 10 of their last 15 games in 05-06 after Landry and Stiemsma were declared ineligible. So another way to frame the question is: what are the chances that the next 15 games will match the worst stretch in the Bo Ryan era? Subtract that number from 100 and you get your chance that the Badgers make the tournament. My calculation: 95%.

2) the Badgers have lost 10 games in a entire season only four times (out of 11) under Bo Ryan.

3) the Badgers have never lost more than 8 Big Ten games under Bo Ryan.

4) other than the 05-06 stretch mentioned above, here are the worst 15-game stretches under Ryan:

  •  2001-02—went 8-7 to start the season, then went 1-1 for technically another 8-7 stretch. Eventually they finished 1st in the Big Ten conference for the first time in 54 years.
  •  2008-09—went 7-8 in the middle of the season, culminating with 6 game losing streak in the Big Ten. That team also lost 7 of its last 15. They still won an NCAA tournament game.
  •  Last year—they had a 9-6 stretch that started with the loss at home to Iowa and ended with the loss at Iowa. (Sweet 16.)
  • Other than those stretches, I believe Wisconsin has won at least 10 games in every 15 game stretch under Bo Ryan. Pretty amazing!

5) On the other hand, this will arguably be the most difficult 15 game stretch the Badgers have ever faced under Bo. Depending on how things go, they could be the underdog in up to 10 of the 15 games—though it will probably be more like eight—which would be unprecedented under Bo.

So, anything could happen, but I like the Badgers' chances of keeping the streak alive.

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