Wednesday, March 5, 2014

15-game stretches under Bo Ryan

In January last year—when the Badgers briefly appeared to be on the bubble (right before they won at No. 2 Indiana)—I took a look at the worst 15-game stretches in Badgers history. The point was that the Badgers would probably have to lose 10 of their next 15 games to miss the tournament, and there had been only one similar stretch under Bo Ryan (in 2006, after Landry and Stiemsma were suspended).

But the most amazing thing was this: looking at all the in-season 15-game stretches under Bo Ryan, the Badgers had won at least 10 games in all but six of them. The Badgers ended up having two 9-6 stretches at the end of last year, so it is now just eight 15-game stretches with fewer than 10 wins:
  • 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.
  • 2005-06—the aforementioned 5-10 swoon. (Note: this was surrounded by some other sub-10 win stretches, obviously, that I didn't bother to count.)
  • 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.
  • 2011-12—they had a 9-6 stretch that started with the loss at home to Iowa and ended with the loss at Iowa. (Sweet 16.)
  • 2012-13—two 9-6 stretches, including one to end the season after losses to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game and to Mississippi in the tourney.
I thought of this history earlier this year when the Badgers had their mid-season slump and lost 5 of 6. After the loss to Ohio State, it looked all but certain that this year's Badgers would have another sub-10-win stretch, if not much worse.

But here we are. The Badgers have won seven in a row. If they win their last two regular season games, they'll be fifteen games from the beginning of the slump and find themselves at 10-5 over that span.

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