Well, that certainly was not how Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan wanted his team to end the regular season.
The Badgers head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament this weekend, fresh off a 28-point shellacking compliments of No. 1 Ohio State on Sunday. The Badgers were helpless against the scalding Ohio State shooters, most notably senior Jon Diebler, who scored 27 points and made all but one of his eight three-point shots.
“He’s on fire, he’s really comfortable. He hit 10 against Penn State [earlier in the week]. We did a hell of a job, we held him to seven,” Ryan joked in his press conference Monday.
All kidding aside, Diebler led the Buckeyes to the best single-game three-point shooting percentage in NCAA history Sunday (minimum of 10 attempts), going 14 for 15 as a team. Ryan attributed their nearly flawless play to the lack of pressure the Buckeyes felt. Purdue, second in the Big Ten and nipping at the Buckeyes’ heels for the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, were upset by Iowa the day before, giving the Buckeyes sole possession of the regular season conference championship.
“They were like, ‘Hey, there won’t be any tie.’ They let it all hang out,” Ryan said.
If it’s looking for redemption, Wisconsin has a chance at a rubber match against Ohio State in this weekend’s Big Ten Tournament. If the Badgers and Buckeyes each win their first two games, they will play each other on Sunday for a third time this season, with the Big Ten Tournament Championship on the line.
Perhaps more importantly, the Badgers could improve their seeding in the NCAA tournament, which begins the following Thursday. The Badgers are projected by ESPN to earn either a 3-seed or a 4-seed in the field of 68, depending on the selection committee’s opinion of the team.
Ryan, however, does not like to play the guessing game that goes with seeding the tournament.
“I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out how those things are done,” Ryan said. “So I don’t know, to speculate probably wouldn’t do any good.”
The Badgers do know they have the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, due to their 13-5 conference record.
Wisconsin’s first game of the tournament will be Friday night at Conseco Fieldhouse, and the Badgers will play the winner of the game between Penn State and Indiana. The Badgers have played extremely well against both teams, winning 13 of the last 14 against the Nittany Lions and eight straight against the Hoosiers.
Ryan also talked about the upperclassman leadership for the Badgers, especially junior point guard Jordan Taylor, who has had a phenomenal season.
Taylor, who averaged over 20 points per game in Big Ten games and led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, is one of 11 finalists for the Cousy Award, which is given annually to the best point guard in the country.
Ryan had nothing but praise for his standout point guard, believing he deserved his all-first team Big Ten honors.
“You would hope a guy like that would be unanimous, because I don’t know if any guy in the league did more for their team than he did,” Ryan said. “We’re looking at assists. We’re looking at defense; he should be on the all-defensive team. He’s just had that kind of season where he’s made things happen for his teammates and himself. He put us where we are. He’s earned it.”
Let's hope that the Badgers can start a roll now that it is tournament time. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!