Tonight, the Wisconsin Badgers will square off with the Duke Blue Devils in the title game of the 2015 NCAA tournament. I suppose I could try to give you some insight on the game: Frank Kaminsky vs. Jahlil Okafor, or who will have the bigger impact: Sam Dekker or Justise Winslow, or a KenPom-style assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams.
But let's be honest here. If you're reading this website, it's likely because you're a fan of Marquette basketball, and if that's the case, then you really don't want to see Wisconsin win the title. Just like Boston Red Sox fans don't want to see the New York Yankees to succeed, or Dallas Cowboys fans don't want to see the Philadelphia Eagles succeed, Marquette fans have no interest in seeing their rival slightly to the west come away with the fancy trophy at the end of the night.
But what if I could offer you a Faustian deal?
Would you accept Wisconsin winning the national championship in exchange for the following three things happening over the next month or so:
- Bo Ryan retires.
- Sam Dekker declares for the NBA Draft.
- Nigel Hayes declares for the NBA Draft.
Think about it.
Yes, Wisconsin would be the national champion for the first time since before the US got involved in World War 2. Yes, Wisconsin fans would go on and on and on and on and on about how they've won a national championship more recently than Marquette.
But in exchange for that, the 67 year old Ryan rides off into the sunset on top, while Wisconsin loses all five starters from the beginning of the season. Remember, Duje Dukan, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson, and Frank Kaminsky are all seniors. Under the terms of this deal, Wisconsin would win a national championship, but then immediately lose six of their top seven scorers from that team, plus lose the head coach that's guided the program to an unparalleled level of success throughout the history of Badgers basketball. It's entirely possible that this combination of events could essentially throw Wisconsin basketball into a state of disarray that could take years, if not decades to figure out how to solve.
The thing you have to consider is the possibility that all of this could happen even if Wisconsin loses. As of yesterday, Draft Express ranks Sam Dekker as the 13th best prospect in the NBA Draft, and after the tournament run that he's had, he likely will leave school to turn pro. If all of those other guys are leaving, then maybe Nigel Hayes will want to leave for the draft, too. After all, Draft Express ranks Hayes as the 27th best prospect for this summer's draft. Do you want to get paid for playing, or do you want to come back to a team that's been decimated by departures?
If Dekker and Hayes leave, maybe Ryan walks away on top. We joke about Bo Ryan being an immortal vampire that survives by sucking the tempo out of college basketball games, but that's probably not true. As mentioned, he's 67 years old, and there is a point at which he's not going to want to continue to coach. Maybe losing in the national championship game and losing six of his seven best players is enough to get him hang up the whistle?
What do you think? Would you trade a Bucky title in exchange for those three things happening? Would you rather they lose and gamble that you get those things anyway? Or is Wisconsin winning the national championship just too repellant of a thought for you anyway?