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Badger Bits: So about that last possession

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Jordan Taylor and Rob Wilson played the last games of their Wisconsin careers Thursday, falling 64-63 to the Syracuse Orange.
Jordan Taylor and Rob Wilson played the last games of their Wisconsin careers Thursday, falling 64-63 to the Syracuse Orange.

I realize four days is a long time in terms of the NCAA Tournament, but a loss like that doesn't leave quickly. For those keeping track, it was a clear Sucker Punch on Bill Simmons' levels of losing. With the wounds still glistening I'd say it was worse than either of the Rose Bowl losses. Maybe that's rash, but I don't see my feelings changing. On those two days, Wisconsin was the lesser team. On Thursday--the way they played--they deserved to win. Which is different than saying that Syracuse didn't. The Orange played tremendously. But Wisconsin was possessed with confidence and seemingly unshakable. That is, until they were suddenly shaken.

If you'd like, you can relive the last possession here. There's Rob Wilson with the ball, getting his defender to jump but giving the ball up to Jordan Taylor, who in a tight spot is forced to put up an off-target, contested 3-pointer. There's Mike Bruesewitz letting the ball slip through his fingertips off the rim and there's Josh Gasser putting up a panicked turnaround floater. Off screen, Jared Berggren sits helpless in front of the scorer's table.

There are a lot of opinions on what should have happened. They all essentially say, with different degrees of voracity, that Wisconsin could have done things better. Berggren should have been on the floor, and Bo Ryan would have been better off calling his last timeout when the clock rolled under 10 seconds. These things are facts in hindsight, but only because Wisconsin lost. Ryan could not have predicted how skittish the team would look based on the previous 39:45, though when panic seeped in he missed his opportunity to regroup.

The record should show that playing Frank Kaminsky for nine minutes in the first half ultimately had more to do with the loss than what happened over the final seconds, as did the inability to keep a deep, athletic group of guards from penetrating the paint. It is tough to shake just how neutered the team looked over that 15-second span, however. A valiant effort felt tainted, though had that possession occurred earlier the game, none of us would have any trouble chalking it up as one of the numerous times the Badgers got caught playing too close to the shot-clock buzzer this season.

So once again, Wisconsin comes this close to being something special and is forced to settle for being good. Which is too bad because their performance Thursday was as inspired as any at this year's tournament. It's unfortunate that the record now shows seven years without a trip to the Elite Eight, but praise Taylor and Co. for the way they fought against an incredibly talented opponent.

Then be sure to curse whatever it is plaguing Wisconsin athletics with a year of whimpered finishes.

Monday's Links:

Big Ten Powerhouse recaps the conference's losses on Thursday.

Jeff Potrykus gives his next-day thoughts, and Phil's stuff is always first rate.

A column about tempering expectations based on talent that I don't really agree with. Wisconsin lost to Oregon because of a talent discrepancy. They lost to Syracuse because ties are frowned upon in single-elimination tournaments. Paul Fanlund has it reversed.

The connection between the Rose Bowl and the Sweet 16 game is too painfully obvious to ignore, at this point. Complaining about talent or coaching is downright greedy. But seriously though: Ugh.

Berggren quotes on the final possession. Sigh:

"There's no saying it would have been any different if I was in or who was in. What's done is done, it doesn't matter. But to come up one play short and to not be in there and being able to help the team, it hurts. But what hurts the most is just knowing that it's the end for this team and it's the end for our seniors."

The outlook appears positive for next season, despite the loss of Jordan Taylor. Gasser and George Marshall will duke it out for the starting spot at point guard. Here's the mirror article from the Journal Sentinel.

Northland Pines FB/LB Austin Ramesh became the Badgers' second commitment for the class of 2013, turning down offers from Iowa, Iowa State and Michigan State.

The story that wouldn't die: LAPD now opening investigation into the John Chadima incident.

Wrapping up: The president and first lady doing the Heisman pose because why not.