The Wisconsin Badgers and their fans have not seen NCAA Tournament success like other teams around the country. If we compare tournament resumes between Duke and Wisconsin, or even Kentucky and Wisconsin, they do not compare in the slightest. In fact, the Wisconsin Badgers have not won a National Championship since 1941. But, there was light from the early and mid-2010s. Here we are counting down the four most memorable NCAA Tournament wins from the Wisconsin Badgers over the past decade.
Over the past 10 years, Badger nation has seen some amazing NCAA Tournament runs from their Men’s Basketball team. These were exciting, well-executed basketball games that deserve recognition. Here are my top four most memorable NCAA Tournament wins from the team where I call home, the Wisconsin Badgers.
4: 2016, Xavier vs Wisconsin- Round of 32
This might be past the Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, and Traevon Jackson days, but this team still made a spark for their fans. Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ were the stars of the show in Madison in their time with the Badgers.
As for the game, this second-round match-up with Xavier went down to the buzzer as NCAA Tournament games should. It was an out-of-bounds play near half-court with two seconds left. Koenig circled around the top of the key from the far wing and collected himself near the corner and rose up in front of his own bench. With that lead up you can tell the rest is history. Fading away, he knocked down the corner three to advance the Badgers into the Sweet 16.
Bronson Koenig ended the night with 20 points and the game-winning three-pointer that advanced the Badgers. Ethan Happ added 18 points in the win. This would be the fourth-best tournament win for the Badgers in the past decade.
3: 2017, Villanova vs Wisconsin- Round of 32
In the 2017 NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats were coming in as a one-seed and coming off of a national championship from the year prior. That all changed when they met the eight-seeded Badgers in the second round.
This game became an instant classic in the eyes of Badger fans. The lead for either team never got above double-digits. This game kept people on the edge of their seats for the full 40 minutes of game time. This may sound pretty simple, but the game came down to who made the baskets and who did not. Wisconsin hit on 53% of their shots from the floor, while Villanova only hit 41%.
A very balanced offensive attack for the Badgers led to four players scoring in double digits, led by Nigel Hayes with 19 points. Stamp this win in the top three best tournament wins for the Badgers in the last decade.
2: 2014, Arizona vs Wisconsin- Elite Eight
Now, moving into the top two and it may seem like they are going to get pretty predictable. As much as heartbreak hit Badger nation in the game after this, this Elite Eight game is one to remember. A clean offensive basketball game from both Wisconsin and Arizona which led to only 15 combined turnovers made this a thriller.
As you expect a one and two seed to do, the Wildcats and Badgers went to battle. The Badgers fought in any way possible to get the victory, but in reality, Arizona could have easily won that game as well. The best thing that was seen throughout the game besides the ability to take care of the ball, was the rebounding. There was no clear advantage on the glass with Frank Kaminsky and Aaron Gordan down low as it came out 39-38 Arizona in the rebounding battle.
Frank Kaminsky ultimately got the best of Aaron Gordan offensively and finished the game with 28 points and 11 rebounds. The way this Badger team came out on top with that amount of grit makes this undoubtedly the second-best tournament win for Wisconsin in the past decade.
1: 2015, Kentucky vs Wisconsin- Final Four
Now, this is the moment that you have all been waiting for. The best tournament win for the Badgers in the past 10 years happened in 2015. What makes this win so great? One word comes to mind, revenge. Wisconsin lost to Kentucky in the 2014 Final Four when Aaron Harrison knocked down a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to push Kentucky to the championship game. Another reason the win for Wisconsin in 2015 was so special was the success of this Wildcat team.
Going into the back-to-back Final Four matchup with Wisconsin, Kentucky was 38-0 to that point. After 40 minutes of game time, the Badgers came out victorious. This will undoubtedly be the best win for the Badgers in the 2010s when people look back at what the Badgers have done. It’s the best Badger moment I can remember.
All of these games may have not led to the ultimate prize of a national championship, but they remind Badger fans of great memories from some great Badger teams. There are always going to be games that fans look back on and with a lot of confidence, these four tournament games would be called the best wins for the Badgers in the past decade.
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