The Wisconsin Badgers have been one of the most up-and-down teams this season, epitomized by their failure to win two consecutive games since January 3rd, but still close enough to be in the March Madness mix-up until the Big Ten Tournament.
After their loss to Ohio State last Wednesday, senior forward Tyler Wahl was clearly fighting back emotions after a disappointing outcome, with that potentially being his final game in a Badger uniform.
However, that’s not going to be the case, as Wisconsin accepted a bid to the NIT Tournament as a No. 2 seed, which means that, not only is their season continuing, but the Badgers are returning to the Kohl Center once again.
With such a tumultuous season ending with a bittersweet taste against Ohio State, the Badgers now have a chance for a fresh start in the NIT, which the coaching staff appears to be approaching with a positive attitude.
Head coach Greg Gard has always been frank that his team doesn't necessarily have as much depth as other programs, understanding their shortcomings this season, but has also looked to instill the utmost confidence in his young unit, which didn't change on Tuesday when speaking to reporters.
“To continue to grow this year, you always look at propelling you forward, specifically when you got the vast majority of your team returning the following year, this definitely could be advantageous,” Gard said.
To Gard’s point, the additional experience can only serve as a positive factor at this point, given how much continuity will be there from this year’s team to next, both in the starting lineup and on the bench.
However, Gard isn’t looking to just continue to develop his team. Instead, the goal is as always: win the tournament.
“We wouldn’t be in it if we didn’t think we could try and go win it. We’re not doing this as a recreational activity.”
Despite the optics, it’s certainly a good move for the Badgers, who get to continue to build their chemistry with a young, rebuilding unit that had to overcome several losses last offseason.
There isn’t an excuse for the Badgers missing the tournament after so many chances, which Gard acknowledged, but it’s a chance with less pressure for an inexperienced team to continue to grow, which should only help the team as they transition into a crucial offseason.