There is no doubt that Ben Brust’s name will forever be etched in Wisconsin Badgers lore.
Just moments after Tim Hardaway, Jr. hit a cold-blooded 3 to give Michigan the lead with 2.4 seconds left, Brust was able to hit a miraculous shot from just inside half-court to send the game to OT and the Kohl Center into a frenzy.
In yet another Big Ten classic (there seems to be a lot of those this year), Wisconsin and Michigan put on a show that was wonderful to watch. These two teams are the best in the nation in not turning the ball over, and that was on display for a majority of the game, until the last few minutes of regulation and overtime.
The game was back-and-forth the whole way, with the officiating superb as well. The refs definitely let these guys play, but didn’t make any glaring mistakes such as the end of the Michigan-Ohio St. game earlier this week.
This game was basically this crazy college basketball season in a nutshell. Being at or near the top of the rankings continues to be a kiss of death, with the top-5 teams going down 4 times this week alone.
In addition, the Wisconsin-Michigan game really showcased just how good the Big Ten is this season. Five teams are within a game of the conference lead, with Indiana and Michigan St, currently tied at the top. Even the bottom half of the league has given the conference leaders headaches. Anybody (besides Penn St.) can beat anybody on any given night.
There is really no doubt that the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball. Just look at what has happened this week.
On Tuesday, Michigan outlasted Ohio St. in an OT thriller. On Wednesday, Michigan St. beat Minnesota in a top 25 matchup, and Wisconsin defeated Iowa in a crazy double overtime classic. The next night, struggling Illinois executed a perfect inbound play to topple #1 Indiana at the buzzer. Then of course there was the unbelievable game between the Badgers and Wolverines.
And the week isn’t even over. Michigan St. still has to go to Purdue on Saturday night, and Ohio St. host Indiana on Sunday.
But this game is still about the Badgers. Wisconsin’s past two games were basically the definition of this program under Bo Ryan.
Wisconsin is a superior team to Iowa, but they struggled and underachieved against the Hawkeyes, but managed to outlast them to pick up the win. As a Badgers fan, those kinds of games frustrate you to no end. But on the flip side of the coin, there are the games like the one they played today.
The Bo Ryan brand of basketball allows the Badgers to compete with anyone in the nation, especially when they’re playing in front of an electric Kohl Center crowd. And with their win today, Wisconsin added to some impressive stats.
The Badgers have now won 6 out of their last 7 games against top 5 teams in Madison. They also join Syracuse and Indiana as the only teams to win 4 games this year against ranked opponents. And one more footnote is that Michigan still has yet to win a game in Madison in the 21st century.
The Badgers still have a lot of work to do, as they move into the tail end of what has been a brutal Big Ten schedule. In their next 2 games, they travel to Minnesota and play host to Ohio St. They also have to travel to East Lansing in March. But Wisconsin has proven that they can beat anybody, home or away.
Every season, Bo Ryan and his crew just play their game and finish near the top of the Big Ten and punch their ticket into March Madness. I don’t know where this team will go the rest of the way, but I do know that this season has been one hell of a ride.
And if the Badgers are still unranked on Monday, something is seriously wrong.