Wisconsin Badgers Seeing (Big) Red
It was a doubly bad day for the Wisconsin Badgers. Both their basketball teams, men and women, made it to the NCAA Tournament. The men won four in a row to finish the regular season and entered the dance as a No. 4 seed, while the women struggled some and played .500 ball the second half of the season, but still earned a No. 7 seed.
Now, less than a week after both tournaments started, neither team played an opponent seeded higher than 10th, but both are heading home until next season.
The Wisconsin men had a tough go in the first round, barely getting by 13th-seeded Wofford to survive the first day. Everyone expected them to face an equally stiff challenge today against No. 12 Cornell, but nobody expected what transpired on the court.
The Big Red opened the game on an 11-1 run on the way to a 43-31 halftime lead. Badger power forward and team MVP Jon Leuer finished the game with 23 points, but he was the only Wisconsin player to score in the first 9 minutes, then only had three points in the last 13 minutes.
Cornell, on the other hand, could do no wrong. They shot 57% as a team in the first half, then actually went out and improved that mark to 65% in the second half. They committed only eight turnovers and controlled the action wire to wire.
The women were too streaky for their own good. After a free throw to tie the score at 11-11 with just over 9 minutes left in the first half, the Badgers allowed Vermont to put together a 16-4 run that lasted until a TV timeout with just under four minutes in the half.
The Badgers hit a three with a minute left in the first half to cut their deficit to eight points, then combined that with a 12-0 run to find themselves leading by four, 37-33. Unfortunately, they followed that by shooting 1-of-10 from the field over the next six and a half minutes. They gave the lead back to the Catamounts and never were able to get above water again.
The men should be alright. They lose two seniors - leading scorer Travon Hughes and Jason Bohannon - next season, and Leuer isn't one of them. They should have Leuer healthy all year (they were 17-4 with him in the linuep) and should have little trouble reloading around him.
The women are in a similar situation, losing two senior starters, but will return leading scorer Alyssa Karel and plenty of depth. Better luck next year, Badgers