Too Much To Think About

You could almost hear the entire state groan. No, I’m not talking about the Madison School District’s announcement of budget cuts and school closings, as heinous as that is.

I’m talking about when Northwestern’s Jeremy Nash threw the ball out of bounds after the Wildcats had stopped the Spartans and had the ball with 11 seconds left. Northwestern could have tied the game with a three-pointer, but Craig Moore wasn’t looking for Nash’s pass and the Wildcats’ hopes were over. The Spartans, who were seemingly looking past the Wildcats towards Friday’s game with the Badgers, survived despite turnovers and other mistakes to barely eke out a first round tournament win against a team that had only won two conference games all season.

But why did Badger fans groan at the Wildcats ineptitude? Because Badger Nation has seen Wisconsin play Michigan State twice in the last 18 days and it hasn’t liked what it has seen. After beating the Badgers in East Lansing, the Spartans came as close as anyone to handing Wisconsin what would have been its only home loss on the season. It wasn’t until Kammron Taylor’s 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left that Badger fans felt good about the game. And even then, Michigan State’s Drew Neitzel, who’s been playing like the National Player of the Year lately, threw up a hail mary three-pointer that was about as ugly a shot as you’re ever going to see — and it still came close to dropping.

Writing this on Friday afternoon, I’m running the risk of being proven wrong almost as soon as this blog is posted. At least I hope so, because I just don’t like the Badgers’ chances of winning this game. The Spartans have outplayed the Badgers for the majority of the last two games and, with Tom Izzo’s team gaining momentum and looking to secure as high a seed as possible in the NCAA tournament, I don’t see any reason for the trend not to continue Friday.

And for all of the hand-wringing Badger fans have done this week as the possibility of playing the Spartans again has moved to reality, it doesn’t matter. With Ohio State all but guaranteed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the selection committee simply isn’t going to grant two No. 1 seeds to the Big Ten, the 3rd-ranked (in terms of RPI) conference in college basketball. Wisconsin will get a No. 2 seed and then go deep into the tournament.

Speaking of the tournament, check this space early next week for details on a “Beat the Blogger” bracket contest. Many will enter, many will beat the blogger. Few will win. Unless donations for prize money are quickly sent to WISC-TV to my attention.

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