Butler presents opportunity for Badgers to change postseason reputation

Matt Howard and Butler present a similar hurdle that Bo Ryan's Badgers haven't been able to clear in the past.

Earlier this week we asked you if Wisconsin's wins over Belmont and Kansas State changed the Badgers' recent postseason reputation.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 65 percent said "a little", 21 percent said "a lot" and 13 percent said "not at all."

I'm with the majority. You can't ignore the significance of a Sweet 16 berth, but the reality is that Wisconsin got to this point by living up to their recent postseason reputation: winning in the first round and beating a BCS school later on.

Now comes the hard part: beating a lower-seeded non-BCS school. 

Eighth-seeded Butler -- Wisconsin's opponent Thursday night in New Orleans -- falls under the third part of UW's postseason reputation. You know, the part that includes getting knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by non-BCS schools in each of the last four seasons.

And that's why even with Bo Ryan's third Sweet 16 berth at Wisconsin, not much has changed regarding UW's postseason reputation.

Wisconsin's NCAA Tournament history since 2005

Wins

2005 (No. 6 seed)
11 Northern Iowa (1st round)
14 Bucknell (2nd round)
7 North Carolina State (Sweet 16)

2007 (No. 2 seed)
15 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

2008 (No. 3 seed)
14 Cal State Fullerton
11 Kansas State

2009 (No. 12 seed)
5 Florida State

2010 (No. 4 seed)
13 Wofford

2011 (No. 4 seed)
13 Belmont
5 Kansas State

Losses

2005 (No. 6 seed)
1 North Carolina (Elite Eight)

2006 (No. 9 seed)
8 Arizona

2007 (No. 2 seed)
7 UNLV

2008 (No. 3 seed)
10 Davidson

2009 (No. 12 seed)
4 Xavier

2010 (No. 4 seed)
12 Cornell

 

 

What's incredible when you look at UW's recent postseason history is how much help the Badgers have received in the NCAA Tournament. Of the 16 NCAA Tournament games Wisconsin has played since 2005, only four of them have been against higher-seeded teams and only one of them was against a one, two, or three seed.

Unfortunately, other than 2005, the Badgers haven't been able to take advantage of that help too often. In 2008, Davidson's upset over Georgetown gave UW an easier path to the Elite Eight, but Stephen Curry shut that road down by dropping 33 points on the Badgers in Detroit in a 73-56 laugher.

And last season, Cornell's upset over Temple in the first round gave Wisconsin an easier path to the Sweet 16, but the Big Red then blitzed the Badgers in an 87-69 beatdown in Jacksonville.

You could almost argue it would have been better if No. 1 Pittsburgh hadn't lost to Butler last weekend. I kid, but honestly, this year's tournament has set up a similar hurdle that UW hasn't been able to clear in the past.

If the Badgers want to change their recent postseason reputation a win over the Bulldogs would go a long way.

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