Nearly every year without fail, Bo Ryan and his staff make fools out of college basketball "experts." By the latter part of the season, those of us covering the team try to avoid sounding like a broken record, but it's too difficult not to.
Of course, I'm referring to Ryan redefining the definition of consistency in college basketball. Through these past 11 seasons at Wisconsin, it's well noted Ryan's teams have never finished worse than fourth place in the Big Ten. During that stretch, the Badgers have also made the NCAA tournament every season, reached five Sweet 16s, won five Big Ten titles and combined for a .726 overall winning percentage.
Given the staggering numbers of success fans have come to expect at Wisconsin, there continues to be those who doubt the talent level and coaching style of Ryan's teams. This season looked particularly bleak after the Badgers (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten) dropped four non-conference games and even struggled in wins against mediocre competition.
But yet, here we are again. With just five remaining regular season games, the Badgers are tied for third place in the Big Ten with MICHIGAN (even UW fans can't say they saw that coming this season).
It's difficult not to laugh how many of us are duped each and every season by Ryan's coaching magic.
To highlight how far the Badgers have come this season, look no further than Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com. He believes the Badgers are hitting their stride at the right time and are looking like a 'dangerous' team for March Madness:
I'm starting to think we've been underestimating Wisconsin's talent and personnel. Sunday's performance against Ohio State showed that the Badgers are hitting their stride at the right time -- and are looking more and more dangerous heading down the stretch.
Jared Berggren is a solid post player while Ryan Evans can create matchup problems. Freshman Sam Dekker might be the most talented player on the team, and Ben Brust can knock down shots. Big man Mike Bruesewitz is another inside-outside option, and we can't forget about Traevon Jackson, who has become the de facto go-to-guy down the stretch of games. Throw in its consistent lockdown defense, and Wisconsin is positioning itself as a tough out in March.
A third straight Sweet 16 could be in the offing -- or the Badgers could go even further.
A third straight Sweet 16 or even further? I sure wouldn't put anything past Bo Ryan.
Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal previews tonight's Wisconsin basketball game at Northwestern.
Somehow, someway, despite the challenges Ryan and his teams face each season, they always seem to be contenders in the Big Ten.
VIDEO: BTN's Gerry Ginardo sits down in an interview with Wisconsin football head coach Gary Andersen.