By now, a number of you have probably read this blog post on Forbes.com by contributor Roger Groves. I'm guessing that a lot of you had the exact same reactions that we did here at AE, so we thought that we would put this down into cold hard black pixels to wipe the nonsense off the board. So, in the style of Fire Joe Morgan, we bring to you our dismissal of "Why A Wisconsin National Championship Would Be Good For College Basketball."
The Wisconsin Badgers are 31-3 on the season. They won the regular season conference championship. They won the Big Ten tournament championship. All of which earned them a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Well, that, plus the near-constant kvetching of their fans about the prospect of potentially playing Kentucky in the Elite 8 instead of the Final Four for the last two weeks probably helped boost that seed up a bit, too.
But they did not get that way through the instant recruiting of the top McDonalds’ All-Americans.
Sam Dekker was #12 on 247 Sports' composite ranking, so he probably should have been at the McDonald's game. No idea why he wasn't. Maybe he turned it down. But in any case, he was definitely one of the 25 best players in the country and definitely deserved to be a McDonalds' All-American, so your argument is invalid.
They had a core group who prioritized academics
Frank Kaminsky: life science communications.
Bronson Koenig: community and non-profit leadership.
Sam Dekker: undecided.
Josh Gasser: business marketing, which at least sounds like a real thing that you need to study in college.
Nigel Hayes: not listed. That's completely and 100% true. Dekker's bio at least says he's undecided. There's nothing at all for Hayes. Good news, though: he "enjoys random facts and trivia."
Erstwhile starter Traevon Jackson is a life science communications major, too, for whatever that's worth.
But they came back for all the right reasons – a degree and a championship – presumably in that order.
Well, Dekker's a junior, so if he leaves after this season, you're gonna look really dumb. On top of this, people have been saying Dekker has significant pro potential since late November of his freshman year. I specifically remember Jay Bilas saying "Sam Dekker can play in the NBA right now" leading up to the Marquette-Wisconsin game that year, and then Dekker went out and scored six points on 2 of 10 shooting in 36 minutes as I presume some combination of Trent Lockett, Vander Blue, Juan Anderson, and Jamil Wilson confused the bejeezus out of him and Marquette won, 60-50. Fun Fact: Frank Kaminsky scored seven points in nine minutes in that game. Nice one, Sam.
But Wisconsin is not a perennial like Duke.
Wisconsin has been to 17 consecutives, just one fewer than Duke. Hey, go figure. Wisconsin has been to 6 Sweet 16s under Bo Ryan. In that same time frame, Duke has been to 9. I mean, I guess you're still right, but you're starting to cut a pretty fine line there.
Wisconsin even playing for a national championship would be a novelty factor that is off the charts, as would the ratings against say, Kentucky.
Well, I'm not going to argue with you on the first half of that sentence, but Kentucky's gonna draw ratings anyway because they're Kentucky. Big Blue Nation is one of the most formidable fanbases roving across God's green earth. The only possible way that Kentucky's going to improve on their television ratings in the national championship game in this particular season is if a 16 seed somehow makes it there to go against them. (Aside: Speaking of 16 seeds, go Chanticleers.)
Playing the game the way it should be played:
First of all: Your formatting in this article is atrocious. Slap a bold font on your section headers already. Second of all: I can not stand this dusty old chestnut. You know what way basketball was meant to be played? WINNING. If you're winning a metric ton of basketball games, you're doing it right. There's no other possible metric to measure it.
The Badgers are methodical.
Which is another word for "slow," which they are. Fifth slowest tempo in the country according to KenPom.com, but hey! There are two teams in the NCAA tournament field of 68 - Virginia (not a surprise) and Northern Iowa (kind of a surprise) - which are actually slower than Wisconsin.
They are mature.
They do not lose their mind in difficult circumstances. To the contrary, they are mentally stronger than many of their opponents.
Saliently, they are so fundamentally sound they do not beat themselves. The Badgers did not have a single turnover until 5:28 left in the semifinal game of the Big Ten Tournament against Purdue. By then they had a 15 point lead, and lost their edge. Shame, Shame – run the bleachers. They ended the game with just two turnovers in a 20-point blowout against a very good Purdue team.
This is all true, except that Purdue sucks.
They were down to Michigan State by 11 points at a critical stage in the second half in the championship game. Yet Michigan State made critical turnovers down the stretch that Wisconsin did not make, and the Badgers found a way to win despite being outplayed.
Also true, except that Michigan State sucks.
Low turnover ratios are merely the offspring of discipline, unselfishness, and playing with a sense of togetherness and well-coached offensive schemes that includes precise floor spacing, passing perfection, and recognition and response to defensive schemes.
Well, okay, I mean, yes, the Badgers did have the lowest turnover rate in the country this season. But you don't get to have the most efficient offense in the country by just not turning the ball over. Again, according to KenPom, the Badgers were also the 19th best shooting team in the country, the 8th best on 2 point shooting specifically, the 12th best at free throw shooting, and had the 4th fewest shots blocked in the country. It seems weird to focus on turnovers when this is the seventh straight year that the Badgers have had one of the five lowest turnover rates in the country and it's meant jack squat in the NCAA tournament before last season.
Frank Kaminsky is the best poster child for everything good about college athletics.
Did you see those Vines?
He is a freakishly nimble athlete, with outside touch and inside moves, who happens to be a 7-footer. In other words, he defies the myths.
Anthony Davis is on line 1 for you, sir. Lines 2 through 8 are occupied by a Mr. Nowitzki, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Garnett, Mr. Love, Mr. Durant, Mr. Bosh, and Mr. Sabonis. A Mr. Olajuwon called, but he just left a message, shouting something about "42 percent" and "look at 1993-1994."
Really, though, this whole section on "Senior Rewards" is dumb. We could find just as nice things to say about Arizona's T.J. McConnell, or Virginia's Darion Atkins, or Villanova's JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard, or Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell, and Byron Wesley, or Duke's Quinn Cook, or a giant pile of other seniors who are major contributors for teams that have legitimate shots at winning a title in their final year of eligibility.
Only hoops aficionados say Bo Ryan is one of the best coaches in college basketball.
I don't know why people who hate basketball would say something nice about a basketball coach, so sure, I guess technically you're right.
Ryan has led the Badgers to more Sweet 16 appearances since 2003 than everyone except Duke, Kansas and Michigan State. And for those with amnesia, his team made the Final Four just last year. Yet few can form their lips to say he’s among the elite coaches in America.
What are you, high? I literally hate Wisconsin basketball with every fiber of my being, and even I'll say it. Watch:
Bo Ryan is among the elite basketball coaches in America.
There. See? Even his critics say it.
The excuse that "he’s never won the big ones" would be extinguished. No excuses for an objective mind would remain.
I'm a clearly and admittedly biased mind and I already just said it! The hell is wrong with you?!
And Ryan’s program has been without major scandal.
Except for that time he was excoriated for being a nozzle about Jarrod Uthoff transferring. And that time that he signed Ben Brust after Brust was released from Iowa, even though Big Ten rules forbid that from happening at the time, and it took an appeal of a denied waiver for that to happen. But I guess those aren't really "major" scandals like Jim Boeheim's low level staffers writing extra credit papers for Fab Melo (Editor's note: WOO BACK TO BACK BIG EAST CHAMPS), so fine, you win.
They can speak of high graduation rates without the one-and-done stigma among historic purists of the college game.
No one cares. Remember when we talked about the ratings Kentucky would get? Yeah. No one cares.
So for the Badgers to win the crown would be validation that playing the "right way" is indeed the way to winning it all. Other teams may even mimic them instead of the one-and-doners.
Again with the "right way" nonsense. Some people never learn.
As far as mimics go, last year's national champion was Connecticut. Their star player? Senior Shabazz Napier. They had three other seniors playing notable minutes and two juniors - Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels - in starring roles, too. The year before that? Louisville, led by senior Peyton Siva and junior Russ Smith, who also had juniors Gorgui Dieng and Luke Hancock playing major roles. Then there was the 2012 Kentucky team with a bunch of one and done dudes, but the most notable one was the aforementioned Anthony Davis. In 2011, though, Connecticut won behind the guiding force of junior Kemba Walker. I imagine you could probably say that the four freshmen on the roster benefited from this experience when they would win a title as seniors. In 2010, Duke won a national championship with two seniors and two juniors having the highest usage rates on the team.
I CAN KEEP THIS UP ALL DAY. With the exception of Kentucky in 2012, every single national champion since 2006, the year that the NBA started requiring draftees to be 19 years old, has been dominated by juniors and seniors. What Wisconsin is doing is not the exception, it is the rule. Hell, in 2006, the national championship was won by a Florida team that was dominated by sophomores. Guess what happened after that? They came back as juniors and won a second straight national championship, the first time that had been accomplished since Duke in 1991 and 1992. You have to go all the way back to Syracuse in 2003 to find another national champion that relied heavily on freshmen to win. Every title team since then, EXCEPT for 2012 Kentucky? LOADED WITH NON-FRESHMEN STARS.
Wisconsin is one of the few elite level teams where the majority of the star players and bench players are white.
Mr. Scott! Divert auxiliary power to the gravitational matrix so we can survive this hard left turn out of nowhere!
Yet I suspect too many people suffer with an undiagnosed implicit bias that somehow they are less athletic because of it.
They're playing Division 1 basketball in a very good conference and they won both the regular season and tournament championships. Anyone who thinks that the Badgers are not athletic is an idiot, and anyone who would suggest that someone would think that because of their race is also an idiot.
And then there are the economic benefits of growing an audience across cultural boundaries. The majority of America is white – for now. So are the majority of advertisers, business interests connected with the game. I would like to think for the majority of those college constituencies, those racial dynamics do not matter. But it would not surprise me, and I could understand why there may be a heightened sense of self-interest for some if Wisconsin made that magical run to the championship, much like when Larry Bird was playing for it against Michigan State and Magic Johnson.
No one should be surprised if the March Madness media frenzy has a little extra pop if Wisconsin makes that run. Higher TV ratings and higher advertising rates would not be far behind. Capturing the "imagination" of the overall public would not be surprising either. And any time the viewers can grow beyond traditional boundaries, it’s a good thing.
Holy shit, you have to be kidding me. Ok, a few things. 1) Wisconsin as a 1 seed making it to the national championship game would not be a magical run on any level. Period, full stop, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. They're the favorite to win their region by nature of their #1 seed. Anything less would arguably be a complete failure on their part.
2) Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were not making magical runs to the national championship game in 1979, because Indiana State was a #1 seed and Michigan State was a #2 seed. Yeah, that's right, Bird and the Sycamores were FAVORED TO WIN THE GAME. Everyone was fired up to watch that game BECAUSE IT WAS THE TWO BEST PLAYERS IN THE COUNTRY. Remember what I said about how winning is the best kind of basketball to play? Yeah.
3) Do you recall when we talked about Kentucky drawing ratings all the time because they're Kentucky? That's just average, year in, year out Kentucky. This year, the Wildcats are making a charge to be the first undefeated national champion in 39 years. That is going to draw ratings for this tournament beyond anything else possible. Not any other star player, not any other combination of teams, nothing at all will beat out Kentucky chasing an undefeated season.
In order, those are from Jim Brown of USA Today Sports, Joshua Lindsey of USA Today Sports, and then Mr. Brown again. I don't know about you, but I see a whole mess of white people wearing Kentucky blue in those pictures. Am I taking just one fanbase into account here? Sure. But it's also the most stark raving mad fanbase when it comes to devotion to college basketball.
ON TOP OF ALL OF THAT, they're in Nashville to watch, support, and cheer for a Kentucky team that's largely the antithesis of Wisconsin: A bunch of McDonald's All American players, many, if not all of whom are not white, and several of whom are freshmen and likely to leave school after this season is over.
Mr. Groves, this article of yours is the one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent blog post were you anywhere close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on the Internet is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.