ATB: Wisconsin — Center of the Sporting Universe?Posted by rtmsf on February 14th, 2011
The Lede. Who knew that a medium-sized flyover state known more for its brats and cheese could become the center of the American sports universe, even if just for a bit? But with the top ten seasons of both the Wisconsin Badger football and basketball teams (now including victories over #1 Ohio State in both sports), plus a little Super Bowl-winning team a couple hours to the northeast in Green Bay, a fair argument could be made, couldn’t it? This too shall pass, but what will not is that Bo Ryan is an unbelievable coach and we should just go ahead and slot his teams into the top twenty every season regardless of the personnel he has returning. Honestly, it’s getting a little ridiculous just how successful this guy is year after year.
Your Watercooler Moment. Unbeaten Ohio State Goes Down. When the nation’s #1 team dunks, bombs and outmuscles you in your house on its way to a fifteen-point lead in the second half, most teams wilt as quickly as those flowers you bought for your girlfriend surely will about 48 hours from now. Wisconsin does not wilt. In fact, the Badgers don’t even bend much, at least not in their Big 10 House of Horrors known as the Kohl Center. Matching like with like, Bo Ryan’s team simply upped its resolve, made some stops and ripped off a 15-0 run of its own (ten points by Jordan Taylor) to tie the game at the 9:49 mark. The last ten minutes of this game represented some of the most exciting basketball of the season, with each team taking turns showing how to score until Taylor (and his 24/4/7 assts) created some separation with his fifth three-pointer of the game at the 5:34 mark. From that point on, it was clear that the Badgers were going to win the game and put an end to the Buckeyes’ unbeaten season, in much the same way that their football counterparts had last October 16 at Camp Randall Stadium. When OSU cut the lead to two with just under a minute to go, it was the floppy-haired Mike Bruesewitz direct from central casting who shot-faked and nailed a ginormous three to effectively salt the game away and set the Kohl Center on fire. At the end of the game, there was the obligatory RTC, as it was only the second time in history that the Badgers had knocked off a #1 team, and this particular OSU team was also the last remaining unbeaten. Full and complete coverage of the court was achieved, as viewed in the video below. Well done, Badgers.
This Weekend’s Quick Hits…
- Pitt Without Ashton Gibbs. It was one thing to win the Backyard Brawl without Ashton Gibbs on the floor last Monday night; but to waltz into the Pavilion on ESPN Gameday and beat the Wildcats in their on-campus building where they had not lost in four years? Very impressive work, Panthers. We realize that Villanova played with Corey Stokes as well, but on this night it was Jamie Dixon’s team who was simply tougher than Jay Wright’s. The physical play and three technical fouls as a result are characteristic of Pitt’s wheelhouse, and when push came to shove, it was the Panthers showing that they are indeed the Big East’s best team and a possible #1 seed next month. Their toughest remaining game is a trip to Louisville, but would it surprise anyone if the Panthers ran the table the rest of the way to 17-1?
- Norris Cole’s He-Man Game. 20/10 nights are damn impressive in the college game, but try doubling it. Norris Cole became just the second player in the last fifteen seasons to drop a 40/20 in a single game — and the other was an athletic specimen you might have heard of named Blake Griffin (40/23 against Texas Tech in 2009). Cole went for an absurd 41/20/9 assts against Youngstown State on Saturday, leaving us to wonder if he also ran the sound system, operated the scoring table and mopped up the soda residue and popcorn stains afterward. Sheesh… We know that Cole has had a handful (three, to be exact) of double-figure rebounding games this season, but how a 6’2, 170-pounder can pull down twenty makes no sense to us — he’s up for the Cousy Award as the best point guard in America, and with Cleveland State near the top of the Horizon League standings, let’s all hope that we get to see this kid play on the biggest stage this March.
- Jamal Wilson’s Unlikely Tip-In. If you’re not going to shoot much, you should make them count; words were never truer than for Rhode Island’s Jamal Wilson, who came into Saturday’s game against Charlotte having scored only eleven points all season. His minutes have increased in recent games, though, and like all players wanting more time on the floor, he made the best of it. His tip-in of Akeem Richmond’s missed three from the corner gave URI a 71-70 win and keeps the Rams atop the second tier of A-10 teams vying for positioning going into next month’s Atlantic 10 Tournament.
- Simultaneous Disallowances. Nearly at the same moment on Saturday night, Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder and Villanova’s Maalik Wayns attempted threes at the buzzer that found the bottom of the net. McGruder’s trey appeared to win the game for the midwestern Wildcats while Wayns’ three-ball seemed to send his game into overtime. The problem: both attempts came just a shade after the final horn, and both were disallowed in a weird confluence of cosmic FUs (the McGruder shot is below). Although Villanova had a rough week in losing two games, K-State’s too-little, too-late shot represents what Wildcat fans must be feeling in terms of a lost season. Now at 16-9 (4-6 Big 12), Frank Martin’s team is a far cry from the team expected to compete for a Big 12 regular season championship this year.
- Chris Singleton’s Fractured Foot. We hate this in a big way, especially because the nation’s best defender was just starting to find his groove on the other end of the floor. Before his injury on Saturday, Singleton had scored eleven of his team’s first thirteen points, and he was in the midst of a three-game stretch where he had hit fifteen of his last twenty attempts. He will have surgery on Monday, and while the team won’t make a formal assessment as to when he might be back in action, we can’t envision a scenario where he’s 100% again this season if he plays at all. The worst part is that FSU, at 8-3 in ACC play, is on the verge of its best conference season since Sam Cassell was in Tallahassee, and now this. We feel for Leonard Hamilton and Noles fans.
- Yancy Gates’ Pouting. During Sunday’s Cincinnati loss to St. John’s, the junior forward who had been suspended last week for the Pitt game for a violation of team rules acted the prima donna fool as coach Mick Cronin taught his player a lesson in maturity. Gates played twelve zero-point minutes in the first half, got only a single minute in the second, and visibly pouted on the bench and during team huddles the rest of the game. There’s really no excuse for this, as his Bearcat team needs his inside presence playing his best each night — Cincy at 6-6 in the Big East is no lock for the NCAAs even after its 15-0 start this season. The Bearcats have four more games remaining against ranked teams, and Gates will need to lose the poisonous attitude if they expect to win any of those.
Photo Fav. Sorry, we can’t get enough of this guy, especially with his battle wound showing as he exults to the sky…
RTC Live. It was a bit of a west coast flavored weekend on RTC Live, but we did manage to get in a little Atlantic (as in Ten) along the way…
Washington 87, Stanford 76. Even though the final score may not indicate as such, it was another home game blowout for the Washington Huskies tonight as Lorenzo Romar’s team used its deadly three-point attack and its deeper bench to move to 9-4 in the Pac-10 race. The game was literally decided in a flurry at the end of the first half, as Washington’s Isaiah Thomas went Tayshaun on the unsuspecting Cardinal (and in particular, Jeremy Green), by drilling four consecutive threes (plus a couple of FTs) in a span of 2:38 to expand the Husky lead from nine to seventeen by the end of the half. Stanford never again threatened the rest of the game. The Huskies have won their six Pac-10 home games by an average 20.3 points and show no signs of slowing down there; the question is whether the “energy” that Lorenzo Romar believe inspires his team to play great defense will show up next weekend in the desert. Arizona still has a two-game lead on the Huskies with three weekends of games left to play.
St. Mary’s 86, San Francisco 68. Saint Mary’s used a 14-0 run just after the start of the second half Saturday night to overcome San Francisco’s hopes of pressing the Gaels for the lead in the West Coast Conference. As a result of the 86-68 Saint Mary’s victory, the Dons fell two games behind he Gaels and face a tough road trip to Gonzaga and Portland. The Gaels have to get on a plane one more time Wednesday night to face cellar-dweller San Diego, then return home to greet Gonzaga and Portland in the friendly atmosphere of McKeon Pavilion. Sitting at 10-1 with a two-game lead over their closest pursuers, the Gaels are in the driver’s seat to capture their first regular season conference title in Randy Bennett’s 10-year reign as head coach.
Xavier 71, Duquesne 63. What a seesaw battle today between Xavier and Duquesne. During the first half Xavier went up by ten on the back of Dante Jackson’s sharp shooting, matching his average halfway through the period. Duquesne battled back though, capitalizing on Xavier’s turnovers and getting some easy buckets on fast breaks to pull ahead at the half. Xavier kept Duquesne in the game because of their 20 total turnovers, but Duquesne couldn’t capitalize, shooting a paltry 25.9% from the field, and just as bad, 42.1% from the line, in the second half. At the end of the day, Duquesne had plenty of opportunities, but couldn’t hit shots when it counted down the stretch. The biggest turning point was when BJ Monteiro picked up his third and fourth fouls early in the second half and had to sit for nearly nine minutes. During that time Xavier took the lead and never looked back.