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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Sam Dekker

Sam Dekker driving to the basket against Kentucky in the Final Four. 

Badgers etch mark in Kentucky's loss column

Wisconsin is not a college basketball blue-blood. As hard as it may be for Badger fans to hear, UW just doesn’t have the 50 or more years of success that teams like Kansas and UNC have enjoyed. However, the lack of elite status is one of the many things that made Wisconsin’s victory over Kentucky last season that much better.

I had the good fortune to secure tickets to the Final Four last season, but before the game against the previously undefeated Wildcats, I figured the Badgers would lose. Kentucky was a buzzsaw that tore up every team all season with very few scares.

All the analysts were picking UK, and in my bracket I had Kentucky winning it all. What I was hoping for was Wisconsin to not get embarrassed on a national stage.

In the stadium, it was essentially a Kentucky home game, with only a three-hour drive from Lexington to Indianapolis, compared to the five-hour drive from Madison. UK is historically well known for traveling extremely well to any venue, which plays to its advantage. Big Blue Nation is known for having an arrogant fan base, and the adult UK fans sitting near our section acted just as obnoxiously as the group of semi-drunk Wisconsin students.

As the game wore on, whenever Kentucky snagged even the smallest lead, the whole stadium erupted.

But with all of this working against Wisconsin, they were somehow sticking around. It was tied at halftime, and with five minutes left in the game they only trailed by four. With two to go the game was tied. It was no surprise for the Badgers that Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky put the team on his back, or that Sam Dekker was draining clutch shots late, but what was surprising is that this scrappy group of three star recruits outscored a roster of high school All-Americans 11-4 to finish the game.

Once it was clear the game was in hand, the student section exploded with more energy than I’ve ever felt before in an arena, and most of the students stuck around for nearly an hour afterward enjoying the moment.

Walking from the stadium back to our car, the streets were full of celebrating red shirts and fans from all the other teams congratulating us for spoiling the undefeated season of one of the most hated teams in college basketball.

Sure, it would have been nice to beat Duke two nights later, but considering most counted out Wisconsin in the first game, that win alone was enough to satisfy me as a fan. The three-hour celebration that was the game and the walk through downtown Indy is not only my favorite Badger sports memory, but my favorite sports memory overall.

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