Berggren Welcomes All Comers To The Thunderdome

Cody Zeller had his hands full with Berggren last season. - Jonathan Daniel

Snubbed by some Internet list? So what. Wisconsin forward Jared Berggren backs up his candidacy with a solid record.

I like lists. Really, I do. Top 5 movies of all-time. Favorite songs to listen to while driving. Ugliest Major League Baseball caps. The thing about lists is they're fun and easy. But that also makes them lame -- anybody can make a list with little to no effort.

Another thing I like? Generally, I like the guys covering college basketball over at CBSSports.com. But those fellows (in this case, Jeff Goodman, Gary Parrish, Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander) released a list of the Top 50 big men in the country and boy, did they whiff.

Rather than point out all the funny things on the list, let's focus on one pertinent mistake. Not a difference of opinion, but a mistake. Jared Berggren is not on the list.

Nevermind Berggren's Big Ten-leading 60 blocked shots last season or that he's the second-leading returning scorer (10.5 ppg) for a perennial hoops power. Just look at last season's box score statistics below. These are games in which Berggren was matched up with elite, NBA-level talent or other stiffs ranked above him on the CBS list.

11/26/11 vs. BYU (73-56 W)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 25 6-9 1-1 0-0 5 1 1 3 3 3 13
Brandon Davies (#25) 35 4-10 0-0 1-1 4 1 3 0 4 2 9

11/30/11 @ No. 5 North Carolina (60-57 L)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 31 6-12 2-5 0-0 5 1 3 1 2 5 14
Tyler Zeller (NBA 1st rd) 35 3-5 0-0 6-6 7 0 0 0 0 1 12
John Henson (NBA lottery) 34 4-9 0-0 0-2 17 2 1 5 2 1 8
James Michael McAdoo (#6) 7 1-3 0-0 0-0 4 0 0 0 1 1 2

This was Berggren's coming out party. Not only was he not overwhelmed by UNC's bigs, he put the ball on the deck and got buckets against this crew.

12/7/11 vs. Green-Bay (70-42 W)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 29 6-8 0-1 1-1 3 1 4 3 1 1 13
Alec Brown (#42) 32 4-12 0-0 2-2 4 0 0 1 0 2 10

1/22/12 @ No. 25 Illinois (67-63 W)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 33 7-14 3-6 1-2 5 1 1 1 2 3 18
Meyers Leonard (NBA lottery) 38 6-12 0-1 4-5 11 0 0 0 2 1 16

1/26/12 vs. No. 17 Indiana (57-50 W)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 23 2-4 0-1 0-0 1 1 0 5 0 3 4
Cody Zeller (#1) 19 2-7 0-0 3-4 3 0 1 1 0 4 7

The numbers only tell so much obviously. Most of the disbelief over Berggren's omission stems from the fact that he flummoxed the #1 player on the list, Cody Zeller, on two occasions. The box score cannot tell you that Zeller couldn't guard Berggren in this game at all and that three of Ice Berg's swats were point-blank on Zeller himself.

Continue on.

2/4/12 vs. No. 3 Ohio State (58-52 L)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 24 4-8 2-6 0-0 3 0 0 2 1 3 10
Jared Sullinger (NBA 1st rd) 40 8-16 0-0 8-10 10 0 3 0 1 3 24

It took Sully almost twice the minutes to put up those numbers. What about the rematch in Columbus?

2/26/12 @ No. 9 Ohio State (63-60 W)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 34 6-13 3-7 3-3 5 2 1 1 3 3 18
Jared Sullinger (NBA 1st rd) 33 4-10 0-1 0-3 6 3 0 1 0 3 8

3/4/12 vs. Illinois (70-56 W)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 32 3-5 0-0 6-9 5 1 1 1 2 3 12
Meyers Leonard (NBA lottery) 36 3-8 0-0 2-3 12 0 0 0 2 4 8

3/9/12 BTT vs. No. 15 Indiana (79-71 W)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 36 5-9 1-4 5-5 9 1 1 1 2 5 16
Cody Zeller (#1) 31 5-9 0-0 7-8 1 0 1 0 1 4 17

3/17/12 NCAA vs. No. 5 seed Vanderbilt (60-57 W)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 32 5-12 1-6 1-1 6 2 0 0 2 2 12
Festus Ezeli (NBA 1st rd) 27 5-7 0-0 4-6 11 0 1 1 2 1 14

3/22/12 NCAA vs. No. 1 seed Syracuse (64-63 L)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 25 6-7 3-3 2-3 2 1 0 0 1 3 17
Rakeem Christmas (#45) 11 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0 0 3 0

* * *

And now for the aberration out of all these big-time, head-to-head matchups: Michigan State. Berggren did not play well versus the Spartans offensively (nor against Green defensively, albeit part-time).

1/3/12 vs. No. 11 Michigan State (63-60 L - OT)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 28 4-13 1-6 0-0 6 0 0 3 1 3 9
Draymond Green (NBA 2nd rd) 35 6-19 0-0 6-8 14 2 1 1 1 4 18
Adreian Payne (#37) 17 2-3 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 1 1 4 4
Derrick Nix 25 4-8 0-0 0-0 4 0 0 1 0 0 8

2/16/12 @ No. 8 Michigan State (69-55 L)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 24 4-8 2-4 0-0 4 1 0 1 2 4 10
Draymond Green (NBA 2nd rd) 35 5-9 2-4 8-11 10 5 1 0 3 3 20
Adreian Payne (#37) 18 1-5 0-0 0-0 2 0 0 0 0 2 2
Derrick Nix 19 5-7 0-0 2-2 2 0 2 0 2 0 12

3/10/12 BTT vs. No. 8 Michigan State (65-52 L)
Player Mins FG 3FG FT Rebs Assts Stls Blks TO Fouls Pts
Jared Berggren 28 1-7 1-2 3-4 2 1 1 1 3 0 6
Draymond Green (NBA 2nd rd) 36 3-9 0-2 8-12 16 5 1 3 7 3 14
Adreian Payne (#37) 31 2-7 0-0 2-2 3 0 1 0 1 0 6
Derrick Nix 21 4-7 0-0 1-1 5 0 1 0 0 1 9

(Hey, maybe Derrick Nix should be on the list too!)

Other than Green, I didn't bother with guys like Jae Crowder (2 pts), #4 Mike Moser (4 pts), Robbie Hummel (5-17, 13 pts), and Kris Joseph (7 pts) who did not directly match up with Berggren for more than a few plays. He surely mailed in some stink bombs last year, but when Berggren needed to come up big in the middle for the Badgers, he usually did.

On this list instead of Berggren are #17 Christian Watford, #20 Alex Len, #46 Khem Birch, #47 Jake Cohen, and a host of freshman. Like Rod Tidwell, Berggren smokes all these fools.

So I'm happy to advance the stereotype that Wisconsin fans take offense too easily and take up this cause on Berggren's behalf. You probably won't ever hear him tell anyone that this bothers him. But in Berggren's head, he's already thinking one thing.

"Bring it."

---

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For more Wisconsin basketball coverage, follow Phil on Twitter @hoopsmarinara.

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