Given the context of our world today, many sports fans are in need of some lightheartedness. With no sports for the foreseeable future, fans and players must cling to memories past, with hope that sports will be back soon.
With that in mind, we at B5Q figure ourselves some forward thinkers (at least in this moment), and will instead take an idealistic look at how the 2020 NCAA Tournament would have unfolded based on Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracket from March 12. Here is a synopsis of the Badgers magical run to win the 2020 National Title, after all they were the No. 1 seed in the best conference.
1st Round - (4 seed) Wisconsin blasts (13 seed) North Texas
In a game that the Badgers were expected to win as the better seed, Greg Gard’s bunch were absolutely cruel to the Mean Green. Wisconsin struggled from the three-point line as they adjusted to having no fans in the crowd, instead Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter went to work inside, scoring a combined 28 points, in the first half. After the game was out of reach at halftime, Michael Ballard went to work, tallying a team high 26 points (a career-high) in the second half of action. The Badger defense was remarkable all game long, holding North Texas to only 32 points. For a final, Wisconsin won 74-32 while resting their starters in the second half.
During an interview on @ZoneMadison this morning #Badgers coach Greg Gard joked they were gonna take the route of UCF and be the self-proclaimed national champion for 2020.— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) March 13, 2020
"We are the number one team in the number one conference, so why not?”
2nd Round - (4 seed) Wisconsin takes down (12 seed) Liberty
After a huge upset win over Auburn, Liberty was the talk of the town, well at least in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Flames were on a hot-streak, but that fizzled quickly against Wisconsin.
The Badgers through a bucket of water on them early, as Brevin Pritzl was red hot from three. The senior wing made a baker's dozen three-pointers on his way to a career high 45 points on 80% shooting. Wisconsin ultimately cruised to a 90 to 56 win, and was able to once again rest their legs in the second half to advance.
Sweet 16 - (4 seed) Wisconsin rocks (1 seed) Kansas
Wisconsin and Kansas was an all-time great matchup. The Badgers got off to a very good start, but went on a patented 15-minute scoring drought to end the first half as Kansas would hold a 10 point advantage at the intermission. At halftime though, Brad Davison gave a heroic speech, calling the team to action, and it worked. Davison would draw five charges against Devon Dotson, fouling him out of the game with over ten minutes remaining in the second half. Kansas was unable to recover from his loss, and the Badgers were able to chip away at the lead to only one point with 27 seconds remaining. Wisconsin held the ball for the final moments, before Aleem Ford hit an absolute dagger of a three-pointer off of a Trevor Anderson drive and kick to seal a walk-off victory in stunning fashion.
Elite 8 - (4 seed) Wisconsin beats the refs, and (3 seed) Duke
Wisconsin fans will forever have the missed opportunities and questionable calls in the NCAA Championship game in their mental Rolodex.
But this year, the Badgers got revenge.
With Bo Boroski as the head referee for the game, everything was a foul in this one. Duke shot an absurd 53 free-throws thanks to an uneven foul differential, but Wisconsin’s secret weapon, D’Mitrik Trice’s mom was in full force. Her Ay-yee-yee-yee call was rang throughout the empty arena, limiting the Blue Devils to only 28.3% from the charity stripe.
Her son was also crucial in the game holding down Tre Jones to only three-points, as Trice battled foul trouble throughout the game, but did not come off the court. Tyler Wahl was a shining light in this game, as Aleem Ford and Brevin Pritzl each fouled out, giving way to the youngster who pulled off his first career triple-double. The do it all freshman was poised under pressure, and was a big reason for the Wisconsin win, taking down Duke 68-63, and paving the way for Wisconsin’s third final four appearance in the past decade.
Final 4 - (4 seed) Wisconsin flies past (1 seed) Dayton
The Dayton Flyers had a magical run this season, but that didn’t matter against the Badgers. Wisconsin used their week without the Big Ten Tournament (which they won by default) to craft up a triangle and two to combat Obi Toppin and Jalen Crutcher. The unique defensive structure threw the talent duo into a tailspin, as the Flyers offense couldn’t get anything going.
Brad Davison earned two hook-and-hold violations that forced him to exit the game early, but everyone’s favorite Brevin Pritzl had a solid double-double in his absence. The real start though for Wisconsin was Nate Reuvers. The junior big-man was stalwart inside on defense, and led the way with 22 points to help the Badgers get back to the NCAA Championship.
Definitely didn’t think this would be how my time at UW ends. It’s been an amazing ride the past 5 years. Thanks to everyone who has helped make me the player I am today. #OnWisconsin pic.twitter.com/YJ6b7hGpv5— Brevin Pritzl (@LilB_Pritz1) March 12, 2020
Title game - (4 seed) Wisconsin beats (1 seed) Gonzaga
The last hurdle in Wisconsin’s magical run was Gonzaga. The Bulldogs had been one of the top teams all year, and were a heavy 10-point favorite over the Badgers.
Wisconsin beat the spread though, and would ultimately win over Gonzaga in a thriller. The Badger misses were few and far between against Mark Few’s Bulldogs, as Wisconsin shot 69% from the field.
Micah Potter paced the team with 25 pounds and 11 rebounds off the bench, while D’Mitrik Trice had 15 points and 18 assists. The Badgers played their most complete game in the tournament, defeating the No. 1 seed 96-69, to win the national title.
After the game, fans were unable to come to the Kohl Center to celebrate, but the team recorded a celebratory video with Carter Higginbottom blaring “We Are The Champions” on his boombox.
The Badgers had one of the harder rides to win the championship, slaying three No. 1 seeds on their way to becoming the 2020 National Champions.