Bucky Regains His Footing

Tonight the Wisconsin Badgers face another tough test in the coliseum home of the Spartans of Michigan State (ranked in the top 20).

It's another of the daunting gauntlet the Wisconsin face to end their regular season.

From here they're home against Illinois, travel to Iowa (a top 5 team), back to Madison for Michigan, and wrap up on the road at Minnesota and Purdue (another top 20 team).

After two straight seasons ending with trips to the Final Four, this year has been unlike any in recent history.

In mid-December, Coach Bo Ryan hung up his whistle.

At the time, the team was trying to find itself.

From last year's squad only two starters returned.  Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes were options 4 and 5 on those powerful teams elevated now to prominent roles.

Thrust into the spotlight are a couple players who got occasional playing time in the past and a bevy of freshmen.

When Bo's long-time assistant, Greg Gard took over he faced a tough task.  How to manage a young team and get them to all pull in the same direction.

Gard's guys are now 9 - 4 since he took charge and moved from near the bottom of the B1G Ten into the middle of the pack. They're within reach of fourth place and securing another ticket to the Big Dance.

The Badgers have won seven straight after starting 1 - 4 in the conference season.

I was fortunate to be at their last home game when Nebraska came to town.  It felt like a lethargic game at the start for Bucky's boys, but they took care of business and played smart with a working margin to a solid victory.

Last Saturday, they went into Maryland as unranked team and took down the #2 Terrapins.  It was an impressive win for Gard's Guys - the most complete game I've watched this year.  It set their win streak at 7 going into tonight.

It's difficult to know where they might end up, but its fun to think about - especially when compared to the season's start.  At the time, the NCAA's seemed like a distant dream and a season fans might soon forget.

Now, it looks like a year of unexpected promise, might bring a surprisingly delightful finish.

Every team is it's own book.  This one has several chapters to write, but it's fun seeing them come together as a team.

They continue to improve and play hard every night.

Last year Wisconsin fans were treated to a season of high expectations and except for a brief lull against Duke - we nearly enjoyed what had been thought impossible.

This team doesn't have the burden of high expectations other than their own.

Bronson, Nigel, Zak, Vitto, and Ethan are representing Bucky and his fans quite well.

Go Badgers!

Post Script:  Bucky stumbled bad in Lansing last night.  However, I expect the team's resilience to shine through in the remaining contests.