Wisconsin Needs Big Ten Tournament-Like Effort to Make Deep March Run

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Badgers played some of their best basketball during the Big Ten Tournament. If they hope to make it to the Sweet 16 again, or even the Elite 8 and beyond, they'll have to put forth similar performances.

Many people who cover college basketball throughout the course of the season were a bit surprised to see Wisconsin only land a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. It seemed like the Badgers' wins over Michigan and Indiana this weekend would be enough to move the Badgers up to a No. 4 seed. Nevertheless, the Badgers seem to have received a pretty nice draw from the committee, as most are considering the west region to be the weakest and most wide open this year.

From constantly scouring the Internet for expert takes on Wisconsin and other bracket predictions, most have the Badgers at least making it to the Sweet 16. There are others who have the Badgers in an Elite 8 rematch with Ohio State (boy, would that be awesome) and experts like CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish, who even placed UW in the Final Four.

That's great and all to see the Badgers predicted to have decent success this March, but it means nothing. The "expert" picks are always a crapshoot and just everyone's educated guesses. Those of us who closely follow the Badgers know how fickle this team can be. When everything seems to be going smooth, they manage to lay an egg with an ugly offensive performance. But when they lose badly to Purdue and Michigan State and barely beat Penn State to close the regular season, they suddenly flip the switch and play great basketball in the Big Ten Tournament.

It's the question most fans ask of their teams at this point in the season: which team will show up? The Badgers will need last weekend's version to make an appearance if they want to make a deep run this postseason. They played cohesively as a group and everyone was playing their best basketball of the season. Traevon Jackson still commits too many turnovers, but he was excellent at taking his man off the dribble and creating open looks through dribble penetration. He also managed to knock down his fair share of jumpers.

But it wasn't just Jackson. You could point to Ryan Evans' exceptional play in the low post and Mike Bruesewitz hitting a few big three-pointers.

That Wisconsin team was as confident as it's been all season. It worked the ball inside more than we're accustomed to seeing, which was key to avoiding scoring droughts (at least in the first two games). And most importantly, the Badgers' defense was outstanding. They did a phenomenal job double-teaming in the post and locking up most men on the perimeter -- like Indiana's Victor Oladipo.

It's an exciting time of the year with March Madness technically beginning today, but if the Badgers want to stick around a couple more weekends, the Big Ten Tournament version of this team will need to show up.

LINKS:

Experts around the nation forecast how March will play out for the Badgers.

VIDEO: Jeff Potrykus previews the Wisconsin/Ole Miss matchup.

In football news, Badgers' senior running back Kyle Zuleger is moving to safety.

Jim Polzin looks at the differences in strength of schedule between Wisconsin and Ole Miss.

If you don't know much about Ole Miss point guard Marshall Henderson, you should read up on him. He's a pretty unique individual.

Tom Oates provides a list of tips for making your brackets this March.

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