Wisconsin Badgers (31-4) vs. Davidson Wildcats (28-6)
When: 7:10, tonight
1. Bo Ryan has written the book on the Swing Offense. Long before he was roaming the sidelines in as a head coach in Madison, Coach Ryan was perfecting his Swing Offense at D-III UW-Platteville, where he won four national titles and had two undefeated seasons. As a matter of fact, Ryan wrote the book on the Swing Offense. There is a video as well. Description for the video is as follows: NCAA Division III National Champion Bo Ryan shares the offense that has made him successful.The Swing is an offense designed to get the ball into high percentage scoring areas, get your team good shots, and to the free throw line. The constant cutting-on the weak side as well as the ball side-makes the defense work on every possession. Coach Ryan covers the basic continuity of the offense and goes over all the options available. 1996, 38 Minutes. Yes, you too can learn the Swing Offense in 38 minutes. That must be one intense video. I plan on showing it to my first-born son every night. Bo Ryan also has instructional videos on how to do the Soulja Boy dance and the Hambone. A man of many talents indeed!
2. 30 wins? No Problem. Only three times in Big Ten history have teams had back-to-back 30 win seasons. The 1974-75 Indiana team went 31-1, losing in the regional finals. They followed that up with the last undefeated season in D-I and won the national title, going 32-0 in 1976. In 1998-99, Michigan State went 33-5 and lost in the Final Four. The next season they went 32-7 and won the national title. During the 2006-076 season, the Wisconsin Badgers posted the first 30-win season in school history, going 30-6, but losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament. This year's Badgers are 31-4, and counting, and hope to follow the success of the previous back to back 30-win Big Ten teams by winning a national title in the second season. Also, the Badgers are one of just five teams in the country that have won at least 30 games in each of the last two seasons. Joining the Badgers are North Carolina, UCLA, Memphis and Kansas.
3. More fun player facts. In our pre-tournament preview, we told you how leading scorer Brian Butch is not an actual polar bear, Joe Krabbenhoft has had over 35 separate "stitch events" to his face over the years, and Trevon Hughes took a cue from the Cobra Kai's Halloween costume and dressed up as a skeleton. Here are a couple more tidbits. Reserve center Greg Stiemsma has developed a nice reputation as the team's barber. Greg also spent time prior to the second round game hitting up Outdoor World in Omaha to purchase a new fishing rod for an upcoming fishing trip. Something tells me he did not run in to Michael Beasley there. One final Stiemsma note: He lists the worst job he ever had as "hoeing weeds." OK. Michael Flowers, the heart and soul of this team, lists "Welcome to the Jungle" as his cell phone ring. I can support that, but I think Mike was about two years old when that song came out. Also, defense runs in the Flowers family. While Michael was robbed of the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award this year, his brother, Jonte, won his fourth straight Northern Sun Conference Defensive Player of the Year award for D-II Winona State. Also: Erin > Doris: This season, the Badgers are 5-0 when Erin Andrews is the sideline reporter for the game while they are only 1-2 when Doris Burke is involved in some capacity. This calls for a little more Erin and a little less Doris, something I think we all can agree on. — Ben Goldsworthy
1. We're really a bunch of dorks. Before last weekend, if you'd heard of Davidson, it almost certainly was because of academics, not athletics. But after two upset wins, don't start thinking this is some secret sports juggernaut. That should be readily evident when you hear the team has adopted Sweet Caroline as a sort-of theme song. And that point guard Jason Richards and Stephen Curry do this weird handshake about a hand fitting into a glove. (I always forget who is which.) And, yes, at one point, we (I still use 'we;' sue me) had an all-white lineup on the floor against Georgetown. These are mostly smart guys who managed to be good at sports too.
2. And Curry is this good. He is grabbing highlights and headlines with 40 and 30 points in the two NCAA tournament games, but the people going ga-ga over him are the ones who haven't paid that much attention. Thanks to DirecTV, I now receive every sports channel ever created, and that means I was able to watch 10 or so Davidson games from a distance this season — which is, by far, the most games we've ever had televised. And Curry has played like this all season. So forgive me if I'm not bowing down to his greatness right now. I did that about three months ago.
3. How about that coach? As happy as I am about these wins and as proud of an alum as I am, I am especially happy for Bob McKillop, who finally got his signature wins after 19 mostly good seasons at Davidson. About 10 years ago when I was in school and covering the team, I used to be around McKillop on a fairly regular basis. I would not say that I got to know him, but I became a little familiar with his type of personality. So when I heard that he said, "I'm numb right now," I was happy for him. He is not somebody I ever would imagine genuinely feels numb. But that he thinks he feels numb must be an incredible feeling for him.
And I have to admit that I had a fleeting thought that these signature wins would be the publicity that McKillop needs to get a job at a more well-funded program. There have been rumors about him being up for such a higher-profile job over the years and, at one point, he might have made that jump. Several years back, though, he crossed over into legendary status. Yeah, he could go somewhere else for a few years, but he would always be our coach. I have a hunch that this time around, he would be the one telling the bigger dogs to take a hike. That, however, is something to worry about after Wisconsin.
So, from the Piedmont, to the Triad, to the hills of Carolina, it is a great week to be a Wildcat. — Matt Pitzer