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As it would take something extreme for the Badgers to get knocked out of the tournament, it's not hubristic to look ahead to see where the Badgers will land when the tournament rolls around.
At this point in the season? The Badgers are 18-8 and 9-4 in the Big Ten. A look at their remaining schedule? It's pretty easy to assume the Badgers finish the regular season 22-9 with 13 wins in the Big Ten. Basically? The Badgers are in.
So we can look forward. March is going to be a thing. We're going to have to be prepared for it. So, as a public service, I'm going to introduce you to some potential opponents we could be facing in March's first round.
Why? Because as G.I. Joe PSA's always told you, knowing is half the battle.
The Blue Raiders play a game that has similar facets to the Badgers. Ken Pomeroy puts their tempo into the 200's. Their leading shooter in terms of volume (Marcos Knight) is inconsistent at putting the ball in the hoop, but he is also leading the team in rebounding. They have a three-point shooter that you have to put a guy on because he's putting up 43 percent from beyond the arc in Raymond Cintron. And like the Badgers, this is not a team that's great at shooting free throws.
Fun fact? The Blue Raiders' opponents are the second-worst at making their free throws. So, if you have a Ryan Evans joke, think about it, and say it to yourself. I'll leave space for you it here.
Personal Worry Level: Low. You have a 12 seed that has an RPI of 24, a very senior-laden backcourt and has crushed Sun Belt play thus far. Considering the Badgers' level of consistency, this becomes the too-obvious upset pick that everyone picks, and yet doesn't come true. This could be a 50-49 Wofford level adventure. But unless it happens, I'm not going to sweat it.
Middle Tennessee's not exactly tall, you know?
12. Belmont Bears (Lunardi)
You remember these guys, right? A couple of seasons ago this was everyone's upset pick to click. Belmont's one of those low-level darlings ever since they nearly jumped up and got Duke in the 2008 NCAA tournament. But they haven't had anything close before or since. Now that being said, this is another iteration that's good and potentially scary.
Ian Clarke's been ridiculous from behind the arc. He's averaging 6.7 shots from three, and he's made 49.1 percent of them. That percentage is good for second nationally. Kerron Johnson's an attacking point guard who also generates almost two steals per game. Trevor Noack's the person who's most like a center. Because as Rick Byrd is still their coach, this is a team that likes to attack. They'll pressure, and they'll go for good shots, and if a three's open, they're more than happy to go for it.
Personal Worry Level: In a one-game scenario? Belmont's got those elements a team would want in their Cinderella. A senior-laden team? Check. Great from three? Check. Generate turnovers? Check plus. Beating a contending tournament team? Stanford's hit a speed bump after being upset by USC and losing to UCLA. But that's a check.
As such, in a single game, if the Badgers didn't dominate the rebounding levels? There's a little more worry on this one than the Blue Raiders. But this would be another way-too-obvious five versus 12 to me. So I'd just call it a medium.
So what does this mean? Looking deeper than I have thus far, the Badgers are a pretty solid five seed. Even lesser known bracketology sites have the Badgers as a five. As such? You need to be ready for every dork, dingus and dweeb picking the Badgers as an upset pick.
Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.