Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dream big, Badger fan

A couple weeks ago after Brett Favre retired, our company's sports division partnered with a marketing company to publish a Favre tribute magazine and distribute it through ShopKo stores throughout the Midwest. Today in a meeting my boss, who spearheaded the Favre magazine, says to his assembled managers, "This might be crazy to say, but if the Badgers win twice this weekend, they're only two wins away from a national championship. And if they win the national championship, that's bigger than the Packers winning the Super Bowl. What do you think, is there something there?"

I had been staring at my notepad, but looked up across the room and saw Jana grinning ear to ear at me. "Who's going to write it?" I asked with a laugh.

It's funny, because before he said it, I had never even given national championship a thought. And given the hurdles left to clear - Cinderella, Kansas, Carolina, and probably UCLA - it's still pretty far back there in my brain, next to the Brewers mobbing Eric Gagne on the mound after winning the World Series. When my boss started talking, I thought he was going to propose a special issue of the Badgers reached the Final Four.

But it's not totally unreasonable. This team has exceeded expectations time and time again. It is playing the best defense of anyone left standing, and with uncanny balance on offense. And it still can play better.

My modus operandi with my favorite teams has always been to set the bar low, which makes leaping over that much sweeter. That's how I'm sticking. The Spawn of Dell Curry frightens the bejeezus out of me, let along the Jayhawks and Tar Heels and Bruins still looming. But just imagine if, for once, One Shining Moment was playing (with Polzin singing along from his couch in Sun Prairie) and our boys were the ones cutting down the nets.

Is it possible?


Anonymous said...

Well, considering I picked them to win it all in my bracket (I also picked them to be facing Davidson - I'm currently tied for first in my pool) I certainly hope so!

ajs said...

In my simple brain the Badge winning the NC is much bigger than the Pack winning the SB. For the state- not so sure? You'd have a hard time convincing Joe Blow up in Neenah.

Jim Polzin said...

Debbie Downer checking in here ...

I'm half-expecting Villanova to knock off Kansas, just because the Badgers have lived a charmed life with upsets in their region ever since Bo arrived in Madison.

This year, they beat a 14 and 11 to reach the Sweet Sixteen; in 2005, they beat an 11, 14 and 10 to reach the Elite Eight. In 2003, they beat a 12 and a 13 to reach the Sweet 16.

Intersting factoid that's been floating around lately: The Badgers are 8-6 under Ryan in the Big Dance: 8-0 against teams seeded ninth or worse; 0-6 against teams seeded eighth or better.

It's been a magical season, don't get me wrong, but I don't see any way UW pulls off a Kansas/NC-Tennessee-Louisville/Memphis-Texas-UCLA trifecta. Can't happen.

One of these games, their shots aren't going to fall and they're going to struggle to get to 50 points, perhaps as early as Friday.

Millie said...

I also have a hard time seeing them pull of that run, but I don't think it's because their shots are going to not fall one day. Hell, they beat Michigan State on nothing but free throws in the BTT.

If and when they lose, it's going to be because another team simply out-executes them. I've watched this team play far too many games to think that they're going to have their first "bad" game since the Duke debacle now.

There are really only two teams left that I think can really disrupt the Badgers offense to the extent that they would have a hard time hitting 50. Unfortunately, one of those is Kansas...

Frank said...

I really think this run is different than the 05 run where we beat all the low seeds. They were lucky that year, no question. This year? I feel like, you know what -- They're really good and if USC didn't show up for their beating, it's not Wisconsin's fault.

Given the fact that they haven't had a truly bad loss all season, the defense is clearly the best in the nation (now first in not only scoring but points allowed per possession, so it's not a mirage based on a slow pace), the many options we have on offense and the way they've handled business in the tournament, I think this is the best Badgers team of my lifetime. Better than last year, only because teams seemed to figure out how to defend the offense that revolved around Alando and they were vulnerable late in the year. This year -- I'm not saying they're going to beat Kansas (or even beat Davidson, they are a legit squad although I think the matchup is good0, but I don't see how anyone can just put that down as a win for Kansas if it gets that far. Anyone who has watched this team knows how well they're playing.

Scott Tappa said...

Good points by Jim, which I hadn't considered. But I'm really buying Frank's analysis, very well said. And to reiterate, I think they can play even better - against K-State the Badgers allowed some offensive rebounds, didn't shoot free throws well, and Landry didn't get many shots. They're peaking at the right time, just hope the peak hasn't yet been reached.