College basketball is the best at ending a season with pain. One bad night. One night where something, and you don't know what, goes the other way? You fall off. You don't get this.
It happens. There's, like, four teams that get to end their season with a win out of 351. They are the literal one-percenters. Getting close and missing makes a person salty.
That said, I'm going to give you, in my most listicle format, my thoughts on the game.
1. If these are the best crews college basketball can get, there's an officiating problem in college basketball.
Okay, hold on. Hold the damn phone. Stop. If you're here from another site, I'm not going to say the refs cost the Badgers the game. Promise. Hold your comments.
That said, these officials did feel like one of the more early-2000s NBA-level competent crews that I've seen since Mike Bibby fouled Kobe Bryant's elbow with his face. Heck, even analysts that went to Duke thought the second half was poorly called.
Once again & I know you guys are tired of hearing me say this BUT these refs are DREADFUL. #Painful— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) April 7, 2015
That's a part of the shame of it. There was enough illegitimacy put into this game that this becomes the major storyline coming out of it. Both teams played well, but the ref show was the thing everyone talked about when the game ended.
2. Tyus Jones killed the Badgers again.
That said, I'm not too sure that if there was a perfect game called, it would have led to a Badger victory. I mean obviously, Duke getting five points off of ref botches is going to make a difference in a five-point game.
But here's the thing: Duke played a real good game down the stretch when it had to make plays. Noted Ted Cruz lookalike and future most-hated man in the ACC Grayson Allen helped bring Duke back into the game when the Badgers built up a lead and Jones had 13 of his game-high 23 points in the final 10:54.
On the other hand, the Badgers shot 4-of-15 in the final 10 minutes of the game. The most efficient offense in college basketball history, and that's their final 10 minutes. I'm not telling you that to insult them, because that's what got them to the spot. But for all the talk of five-on-eight -- and I'm not absolving myself of it, either -- Duke played really well when it counted. The Blue Devils deserved a better officiated game just as much as we did.
3. Bo Ryan was literally the only person who was against Russell Wilson coming to Madison.
I'm not going to belabor the talk about the referees any longer beyond this point: If a coach agrees with you that the game was officiated poorly, you're a jerk for going after the coach. With that said, onto the-rent-a-player thing.
Bo wasn't talking about the one-and-dones. Any coach would love to have a shot at a transcendent player that would dot his team for a season. Getting an extra win or four in a season is a trade-off every coach would love to make. Bo was talking about the guys who graduated who go to another school. No offense to the Trey Lewis' of the world, but players like the new Louisville guard are what Bo was talking about here.
This isn't some sort of new thing, either. As I said up top, Bo Ryan was against Russell Wilson coming to Madison. I'm not going to call Bo Ryan a saint; you have success as a Division I coach, you're bound to get some grime on you. But to dismiss what Bo was trying to say here as a bad look is missing the bigger picture.
More on the Game
More on the Game
4. If you tweeted at Diamond Stone since his commitment, you are a garbage person.
That's probably enough, though there were a lot of people Tuesday night who instead of being sullen and cry-drinking themselves to sleep took to tweeting the Maryland commit. Beyond the general squick of tweeting at recruits, they were basically human garbage in their responses here.
If you're saying, "But he made a laughing-until-he-cried emoji tweet right as the game ended," first of all, if three button pushes on a cell phone is enough to get you to make yourself look horrendous, that's not on Diamond Stone. Second of all, if you're assuming Diamond Stone hasn't been getting the most fecal of thoughts from Badger fans since he made his commitment to Maryland, quite frankly you're one of those dumb people. I mean, if I had to spend a week-plus having my intelligence called into question by a certain fanbase, I would take it to where I could reach the most people and give the equivalent of DX crotchchops the moment they faced adversity.
In conclusion, he made his choice. It's done. Move on. If he comes out and pulls off a 30-and-20 in Madison next year, so be it. He'd probably have a right to #karma after the game, too.
5. It's going to be interesting to see who steps up next year.
This may have been the last and best shot the Badgers had for a national title for Bo Ryan. But that said, Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes form a quality core that's going to keep the Badgers a quality basketball team for next year. Zak Showalter showed flashes of brilliance during the tournament, enough so you had to wonder why he didn't get any run Monday night. Ethan Happ is a highly intriguing freshman who just basically spent a year and got stronger, and Vitto Brown will probably move beyond just being an energy guy next season.
That said, there's likely going to have to be some big rotational minutes coming from either Brevin Pritzl or Alex Illikainen next season. And that's usually been a sign that there's going to be some bumps in the road.
It's not any sort of signal for doom -- the Badgers are going to be good at basketball again, it's just that 2015-16 might not be a year where Wisconsin threatens to be ranked No. 1 in the NCAA tournament. But even eliminating the off-chance Sam Dekker decides to come back, I wouldn't bet against another deep tournament run. Not by a longshot.