Wisconsin draws a No. 4 seed in NCAA tournament
When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, the Badgers expect to be in, and they expect to bounce back.
"We're just excited to get out on the floor again," senior Jason Bohannon said. "The last game (a 58-54 loss to Illinois on Friday) left a little sour taste in our mouth with how we performed. Luckily, we've prepared ourselves and played well enough to be put in position to get another game."
Continuing its program-record of 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances (fourth longest current streak in the nation), Wisconsin
(23-8) was announced Sunday as a No. 4 seed in the East Region, opening play Friday against 13th-seed Wofford at Jacksonville, Fla., at approximately 2 p.m. CDT.
The winner plays No. 5
Temple or No. 12 Cornell on Sunday.
"These guys played well enough over a four-month period to be in a pretty good position in the NCAA Tournament," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan of his Badgers, who represent a school that is 12-5 lifetime vs. lower seeds, 10-2 under Ryan's watch.
"That's how it's judged. It's judged on your entire body of work. I'm extremely excited for our guys that they get a chance to play again."
Wisconsin finished in fourth place in the Big Ten at 13-5, but struggled against the Illini in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. Regardless, the Badgers were one of six teams in the country to beat three AP top 10 opponents this season and had an RPI of 20, things that certainly make UW a dangerous team in the field.
"Every time we step on the court, we feel like we can do some damage," senior Trevon Hughes said. "I'm pretty sure I'm not speaking for myself. Anybody on our team, our coaching staff, we feel like we can win every game."
Wofford (26-8, 15-3 Southern), located in Spartanburg, S.C., has won 13 straight games. The Terriers won their conference tournament to earn the school's first automatic NCAA berth. They are led by junior forward Noah Dahlman, the team's only double-digit scorer at 16.8 points per game.
Wisconsin won the only meeting between the schools, 70-43 at Madison in December 2007.
"They are a totally different team, I'm sure, (but) they are playing good basketball," said Bohannon, who led the Badgers in that victory with 14 points. "They're playing very well right now. We need to come ready to play."
Wisconsin, 6-2 all-time against the Southern Conference, will join four other Big Ten teams (No. 2 Ohio State, No. 4 Purdue, No. 5 Michigan State and No. 11 Minnesota) in the 65-team NCAA field.
With a couple of senior guards, four players who average over 10 points per game, a defense that ranked third in the NCAA (allowing 56.1 points per game) and the only conference team to have not lost back-to-back games this season, the Badgers aren't expecting to have a short stay at any tournament site.
"We wouldn't step on the floor if we didn't want to win and perform to our highest level," Bohannon said. "We have an opportunity to go and do that."