LOS ANGELES— No one ever said making the Elite Eight was easy. Well, except maybe Kentucky.
The University of North Carolina student tasked with completing the basketball team’s schoolwork was unable to watch the Tar Heels take on Arkansas Saturday.
With NCAA March Madness at a lull until Sweet 16 play begins Thursday, now is as good a time as ever to discuss the state of NCAA athletics. Setting aside the human factor of student-athletes and coaches engaging in acts of misconduct, we can look toward the root of the problem lying in the broken structure of collegiate athletics today. The problem runs the entire gamut of college athletics, whether it is from the bottom in the arbitrary rules and regulations that student-athletes are subject to, all the way up to how the NCAA works as a cartel, but I see most of the controversy bubbling to the surface in student-athletes.
OMAHA, Neb.—Locked in an intense NCAA Tournament battle with the Oregon Ducks for a second consecutive year, the Wisconsin Badgers desperately needed someone to deliver a huge second-half performance to keep their dreams of a national title alive.
In case you haven’t heard, the No. 1-seeded Badgers (32-3 overall) are playing No. 8-seed Oregon in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32 for the second year in a row. The Badgers return almost the same team. The Ducks? Not so much.
OMAHA, Neb.—The Wisconsin Badgers’ performance Friday night wasn’t their best or most exciting of the season, but it was still more than enough to send them into the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament.
The top-seeded Wisconsin Badgers’ quest for a national title begins this weekend in Omaha, Neb., where they’ll likely still be without the services of senior guard Traevon Jackson.
The Badgers entered the 2014-’15 season with the highest expectations in program history. A team fresh off a Final Four appearance that lost only one major contributor will create that hype.
CHICAGO—With their thrilling Big Ten Tournament Championship, No. 6 Wisconsin earned its first NCAA Tournament 1-seed in program history, and enters a region that’s going to carry a whole lot of deja vu.
March Madness is the best playoff system of any sport at any level, and it isn’t even close. The combination of a huge number of teams and the single-game elimination system makes it unpredictable every year. So unpredictable, in fact, we haven’t seen two No. 1 seeds make the championship since 2008, the only year where all four No. 1s made the Final Four. And there haven’t been multiple 1-seeds in the Final Four since 2009, when Connecticut and North Carolina were the only two.
Wisconsin’s Big Ten Championship win gave all watchers a preview of what college basketball in March is going to bring.
After putting together arguably its best half of the season to cruise past Purdue, the stage is all set for Wisconsin.
The situation was worrisome at halftime. Purdue led 35-30 and had held off an impressive UW push to tie the game going into the locker room. The Boilermakers’ star center A.J. Hammons was dominating on both sides of the floor, scoring 10 points and holding Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky to just four points. Purdue had played an excellent half of basketball and it was definitely possible they could keep it up and shock the nation.
CHICAGO–While shooting around before the game, Duje Dukan received a warm welcome from a group of United Center security guards. That moment was just the beginning of what ended up being a special homecoming for the redshirt senior forward, who grew up in the Chicago area.
Working to become the top dog in the Big Ten is a tiring task, but it carries a reward UW will be grateful to have as it embarks upon the next step of becoming one of this program’s great teams.
Spoiler alert, the Badgers are the odds-on favorite to win their first Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament since 2008. Here are how the rest of the tournament’s top seeds stack up against UW.