Badger basketball team beat all the odds

Ryan Wickersham & Bryce Simonis , Contributors

The University of Wisconsin Men’s Basketball season came to a close following the Badger’s March Madness loss.  

The Wisconsin Badgers took on the Iowa State Cyclones in the second round of March Madness action. The Badgers, however, fell short in their efforts in a 54-49 loss to the Cyclones, eliminating them from the 2022 March Madness Tournament.  

Although Wisconsin performed poorly in their final game (shooting only 2/22 from 3-point range), there were still a lot of upsides for the Badgers looking back on the season. 

Following the Iowa State game, Wisconsin Head Coach Greg Gard shared a statement on the March Madness Website about the 2021-22 season, “Obviously it stings and it’s hard today but these guys have done a lot and accomplished a lot and overcome a lot of odds and a lot of doubters.” 

Heading into the 2021-22 college basketball season, the Badgers were slated to rank only 10th in the Big 10 conference due to a loss of key scorers and assets including D’Mitrik Trice, Aleem Ford, Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers. With four of Wisconsin’s top five scorers heading out, there was not much hype or expectation for the Badgers to do much.  

Despite losing many key players, Wisconsin started to show promising signs early on in the season, winning the 2021 Maui Invitational and defeating powerhouse teams along the way. These teams included Texas A&M, #15 ranked Houston and #18 Saint Mary’s. These early-season victories showed that Wisconsin was a real contender and the early speculation about them was far off.  

As the season progressed the Badgers continually remained among the AP top 25 and were right at the top of the Big 10 conference. After a win over Rutgers University on February 26, it was announced that the Badgers’ following game against the Purdue University Boilermakers would determine which team would be named the Big 10 regular season champs for the 2021-22 season.  

When it came game time the Badgers were ready, taking a five-point lead following the first half of action. The second half of play consisted of back and forth play between both teams and began to come down to the wire. With 15 seconds left in the game and a three-point Wisconsin lead, Brad Davison headed to the line to shoot free throws after getting fouled in bonus. Davison, however, could not connect and Boilermaker star Jaden Ivey marched down the court and drilled a game-tying three-point shot. Then with five seconds left in the game, Wisconsin freshman Chucky Hepburn shot a step-back three and banked it in to give the Badgers the win. 

After one of the most exciting Badger wins in recent memory, the Badgers stumbled into the postseason. Taking an unfortunate loss to the inferior University of Nebraska team at home 74-73, Johnny Davis got injured. Insult to injury, with that loss the Badgers ended up sharing the regular season title with Illinois. This resulted in the Badgers plunging to the second seed in the Big Ten Championship tournament, matching them up against the 7th seed Michigan State Spartans in the tournament. 

Unfortunately, the skid continued; with Johnny Davis still hurting from his injury, the Badgers fell to the Spartans in their first game 69-63. The loss led to what most likely landed them a 3 seed spot instead of the 2 seed spot they were originally projected to seed in the March Madness tournament. 

The Badgers 2022 March Madness started off with the round of 64 game against 14th seed Colgate University. On paper it was a game that looked very winnable, but the Raiders were one of the hottest teams in the country. 

Colgate was on a 15-game win streak and one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, shooting over 40%. After going into halftime at 28-28, the Badger defense put Colgate in an almost 10 minute scoring drought. Not only that but Johnny Davis took over scoring 25 points and downing Colgate 67-60. This led to the team’s second-round game against the Iowa State Cyclones.  

After 52 seasons as a Badger basketball fan, Jeffery Simonis of McFarland thought expectations played a big role in making the season enjoyable to watch.  

“With such low expectations, every game made me believe in this team more and more,” said Simonis. 

Though the Badgers success in the future is uncertain in Simonis’ mind, especially with Brad Davison’s graduation and Jonny Davis’ departure to the NBA.   

“The future is a bit hazy,” said Simonis.  

Although the outcome of the season was not the desired one, the Badgers managed to shock the world and prove that they did not need last year’s talent to succeed. 

The Badgers went on to rank in the top three of their conference even after being ruled out by experts before the season began. This was a season that most Badger fans will cherish, being one of the most unexpected and exciting teams in years.