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Saturday, March 31, 2007

One Down, One To Go

The Ohio State-Georgetown game was a virtual pick'em in Vegas and I couldn't have agreed more. My instincts told me to pick the one-point favorite, Georgetown, because of experience, their conference, Jeff Green and the precision of John Thompson III's cutting offense.

I'm still waiting for Green to show up. In terms of leadership, he had an abysmal game, going long stretches in both halves before scoring (or even attempting) his first basket. The junior finished with only five field goal attempts. Inexcusable on Green's part, which Billy Packer correctly harped on, but also on JT3's part. Jim Nantz kept fawning over David Lighty's defense, but c'mon Jimbo. The frosh goes 6'6" and 220 pounds--he didn't quite "lock down" Green, who has three inches and 15-20 pounds of muscle on Lighty.

In the regional finals, Georgetown destroyed North Carolina in crunch time by letting the Tar Heels tire themselves out and clamping down on defense. UNC looked undisciplined on offense once Ty Lawson quit attacking the hoop at breakneck speed. The outside shots were open, but rushed.

Credit Ohio State for gaining control of the game and not relinquishing it. Mike Conley Jr. is just a tad slower than Lawson, but smoother and smarter. He posted his typically stellar line: a team-high 15 points on 58% shooting, with 6 assts, 5 rebs and only one turnover. Plus, his Buckeye teammates were free throw-making, turnover-forcing seniors, not freshmen.

The end of the first half and beginning of the second were the only enjoyable moments of the touted match-up of big men, as foul trouble kept both Roy Hibbert and Greg Oden on the bench for long periods of time. I did see a glimpse of Oden's potential when he received a pass as a trailer entering the wide-open lane and tried to jump over Green for the dunk. Gramps got up; Green got the foul. But the best thing about Oden's brief domination was that Clark Kellogg got to comment on the young sensation during the post-game highlight session.

Kellogg's exact quote:

"Greg Oden made the most of his opportunities in the second half and showed me a little more in his package than expected."


If you stuck around between games, you saw officials from Lowe's present Alando Tucker with this year's Lowe's Senior Class Award. Tucker was sporting a brand new shirt with some sort of savanna camouflage design. The presentation and acceptance speeches were equally hilarious. Unintentionally.

BTW, I think UCLA beats Florida. So bet on Florida and the BCS rematch.

Friday, March 30, 2007

How Good Is Bo Ryan?

On Thursday, Bo Ryan became the fourth annual recipient of the Adolph Rupp Cup award for the men's basketball coach of the year. Even though Wisconsin had a great season, Bo had not been mentioned much as a national award candidate. Thad Matta took home the hardware in the Big Ten and Tony Bennett was named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press.

Despite finishing the season 4-4, Wisconsin won 30 games, surpassing the old mark of 25 wins (set and matched in Bo's second and third seasons). The school earned its first-ever No. 1 ranking in February and boasted the nation's third-longest winning streak this season. The Badgers proceeded to make a ninth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, receiving the highest seeding in team history.

The Rupp Cup voters did not hold the late-season slide against the coach and they were right in doing so. UW lost arguably its second-best player for the second half of a two-point loss on the road against the top-ranked team in the country. With Brian Butch done for the season, the fall from grace was not surprising. During the winning streak, I was demanding a Final Four run. "Nothing less should be expected," I thought. By the end of the Big Ten Tournament, I admitted that making the Elite Eight would constitute a successful season. As it turned out, making the Sweet Sixteen would have elated me.

We tend to romanticize the ability of our team's players when all is well and conversely, go overboard negatively when the season bogs down. The only constant is the coaching. I think it's fair to say that the only Badger we know will play in the NBA is Alando Tucker. Based on size alone, Butch and Greg Stiemsma may wind up getting a look next year, but that is contingent on showing a lot of improvement as seniors. Landry? Hughes? Nothing more than potential right now.

This is what Bo has to work with. The coaching record speaks for itself. His 500th career victory came this season at the South Padre Island Invitational versus Auburn.

Along with Tom Izzo, Bo seemingly stands as the very best of the Big Ten's head coaches. That elite class has swelled with the influx of two recent heavyweight transfers, Kelvin Sampson and Tubby Smith. Like Bo, Thad Matta came in with a proven track record at other programs, experiencing immediate success and Big Ten titles. Those five coaches have Hall of Fame potential. However, Bo is the only one from this group who has not been to a Final Four. Hmmm ...

On the other hand, Bruce Weber built the Southern Illinois program into a mid-major power before winning two Big Ten titles and reaching the NCAA Championship Game with the Fightin' Illini. Yet he is knocked down to the middleweight division because of lackluster recruiting skills. There he joins Purdue's Matt Painter, the conference's lone "whiz kid." Painter took over at Southern Illinois after assisting Weber there for five seasons. He finished his training as associate head coach under Gene Keady at Purdue, where Weber was an assistant for nearly 20 years. Coming into the season, Purdue was my sleeper team in the conference and I think Painter's boys validated my thoughts by the end of the year. He's got potential as a coach and a very good incoming crop of freshman this fall.

The final two classes of Big Ten coaches include the "small-time coaches in over their heads at terrible programs" club (Bill Carmody at Northwestern, Ed DeChellis at Penn State) and the "vacancies at sleeping giants" club (Iowa and Michigan). The "former players who can't get it done" club is empty with the recent departures of Steve Alford and Tommy Amaker.

There's reason to believe Bo will take this program to even higher heights. His only "off year" in 2005-06 can be attributed to two crippling academic suspensions. UW continues to gain previously unthinkable media attention since he's arrived. But the Final Four is calling. Bo is principled, but needs to be willing to tweak his famous swing offense to suit the high-level players his staff can now reach.

As an aside, I think the Badgers still have not recovered from losing Rob Jeter two season ago. Sure, the team still has two top-notch assistants in Gary Close and Greg Gard. But imagine having three great assistants. As Jeter begins beating out bigger schools for recruits at UW-Milwaukee, Howard Moore is still feeling his way into the role of the replacement. Moore has cultivated his Chicago background into a recruiting tool for the traditionally fertile area before, but may still be adjusted to attracting the top-level talent that success in the Big Ten requires. Both recent recruits out of Illinois--signed before Moore returned to Madison--have now transferred. Tucker was a smashing success waaaaaa-y back in 2002, but neither Mickey Perry (Chicago) nor DeAaron Williams (Peoria) contributed.

Tasty links:
- Kirk Penney is enjoying Euro-league basketball.
- Keaton Nankovil has big plans (see #12).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Knicks Call Up Center from Double-A Lexington

First, a tangent. Congrats to Alando Tucker for being named to the AP's All-American First Team on Monday. Shame on those eight writers who did not vote Tucker a first-teamer on their ballots. Judging from the vote tallies, 'Do will also come up short in the Player of the Year voting. He had the second-highest vote total behind Kevin Durant, who was a unanimous selection. No matter. It is a great honor to cap Tucker's fantastic season.

As for the New York Knicks, their latest signing reminds me of an NHL move. Instead of junior hockey, however, the newest Knickerbocker comes directly from college basketball. Randolph Morris just completed his junior season with the Kentucky Wildcats, leading the team in points, rebounds and blocks. Morris was one of Tubby Smith's most highly-touted recruits at Kentucky, but never developed into a dominant college player. He declared for the draft after his freshman season, but was not selected. The 6'11" Morris became a free agent, as an NBA rule barred him from re-entering the draft.

Techinically, Morris could have signed with any team at any point in the past two seasons. Only the Knicks -- they of infinite wisdom, unmatched desperation, and boundless bankroll -- found a need for the middle-of-the-road big man this soon. Although Morris did not play in Monday's game, he could conceivably play for New York any day now. I'll admit that Morris doesn't quite seem to fit in with the rest of New York's roster. No, not his age (several Knicks are only a year and a half older). Could it be? Oh yes, his forthcoming 2007 salary! C'mon Isaiah, throw the guy a bone!

For some reason I'm fascinated by this unique occurrence. I surprised this hasn't happened sooner, specificly involving a young guard who has declared too early. It would not surprise me at all to see a situation like this happen again in the next 5-6 years involving a more high-profile player. All it would take is some bad advice from someone a rising basketball star trusts. The hoops universe has plenty of that unfortunately. Just imagine the kid going undrafted and then somehow working harder and blowing up the next season. If more than one NBA team ran into significant injuries during the playoff push, *POOF* ... you have a bidding war.

More good stuff:
- Rick Pitino has no interest in returning to Lexington. Top candidates are listed.
- If you thought UW's season ended badly, see the incredible video of how it ended for Michael Flowers' brother Jonte and another LaFollette alum in the NCAA D2 Championship Game.
- I told you so: the Badger women are the Wolverines of the WNIT. Michigan is jealous. Ed. note: UW won, then lost in the finals.
- Madison's Abundant Life scores mild postseason honors, Memorial sweeps awards: Boys and Girls All-City Teams (commit the name Marquis Mason of Madison East to memory).

Monday, March 26, 2007

What's Cooking

Some tidbits from the stove top:

Tom Crean was a guest on Fox Radio's GameTime Saturday and serendipitously, I hopped into my car just in time to listen. Let's just say his "I'm staying at Marquette" schtick was very unconvincing. He went on a couple thinly-veiled tangents and of course, mentioned that he "has a great contract" at Marquette. Finally, Crean concluded with the standard, "I haven't even thought about that" routine.

Kentucky would be one of only a few schools that would match Marquette's ridiculous compensation package, being a basketball-first (only?) university. Crean has the energy, ambition and recruiting ability for the job. But take away Dwyane Wade's Final Four run and Crean's resume is not that spectacular. Kentucky's search will begin with rejections from Billy Donovan and Tom Izzo before reaching names like Mark Few (Gonzaga), Billy Gillespie (Texas A&M) and maybe even John Calipari (Memphis). Crean is not good enough for the Kentucky job, but if they ask, he's as good as gone.

: : :

Boy, oh boy. Good thing I only entered three NCAA pools this year. My second-chance picks for the Round of 16 were hopeless after the first night. My final chances for glory in any pool died with North Carolina's epic collapse on Sunday and Memphis on Saturday.

Speaking of which ... Memphis had my hopes up until the intention foul by Chris Douglas-Roberts on Greg Oden. The five-point play that ensued was a disastrous swing in momentum. To refresh, Memphis was leading, 60-57, when a wide-open Oden caught a pass under the hoop, where the much smaller Douglas-Roberts proceeded to wrap two arms around him. I'm not as surprised that an intentional foul was called as I am perturbed that the referees allowed Oden NBA-style continuation and counted the ensuing basket. In reality it was a foul before the shot. Oden made one of the two free throws and the Buckeyes kept possession, gaining a 62-60 lead they would not relinquish on two freebies by Jamar Butler. Ohio State outscored Memphis 30-16 over the next 9:30 to win going away.

: : :

The guys at Sports Montage have a great post bashing Aaron Gray, one of the more overrated big men in America. Extra fun hearing it come from an actual Pittsburgh fan. If you want to know what I think of Gray, just look at every one of my brackets where I had VCU beating Pitt in the second round. He's a stiff. Like many other college basketball fans, Sports Montage also dislikes Joakim Noah, another over-hyped big man. Good stuff.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tubby To Minny

Minnesota made a smart, safe move by officially naming Tubby Smith as its new head coach on Friday.

Ignoring the perception that Kentucky was slipping in its recruiting and its results under Tubby, the man does have a national title under his belt. Not many current coaches in the midwest can say that. This alone can get Minnesota's foot in the door with some high-profile recruits that have been escaping the Twin Cities in recent years. So the next Cole Aldrich (Kansas-bound) that comes through town may think twice before spurning the Gophers.

Apparently Minnesota decided that making a big-name splash was the most important factor in the hiring. Mission accomplished. The move immediately legitimizes a troubled program, if only for the tight ship that Tubby runs. Methinks we've seen the last of the easy wins at Williams Arena, given the makeup of the Gopher roster next year under a real head coach.

The object of Minnesota's hiring desire ran the gamut throughout the extended vacancy, from Flip Saunders of the Detroit Pistons (hah!) to Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery, allegedly, in recent days. Washington State's Tony Bennett appeared both too loyal and too unproven, while Dan Altman of Creighton was a potential mid-major option. Ultimately the sting of the Dan Monson era was too recent to go the up-and-comer route again with Lowery, Bennett or Altman.

So that leaves both Michigan and Iowa to find their own headline-grabbing hire. Ernie Kent can already recruit Detroit well all the way from the West Coast, but I think Michigan will steer clear. Brian Cook effectively outlines his favorite possibilities for the Wolverines in his blog. The Hawkeyes might be spinning their wheels with national candidates (Bruce Pearl back in Iowa City?) instead of looking at someone like Altman.

But as Minnesota proved, even a blind Gopher can find a nut once in a while.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Milwaukee Prepares To Tank

The injury news continues to worsen for the Milwaukee Bucks, with both Drew Bogut and Chuck Villanueva officially done for the year.

But on the bright side, I think this team has what it takes to make a late run for a few more ping-pong balls. Too bad Terry Stotts got canned -- the Bucks would have been a shoo-in to catch the Memphis Grizzlies for the worst record in the NBA. I like the new Coach K.

Regardless, currently the Bucks have the fourth-worse winning percentage in the league. Who looks better in red and green, Oden or Durant? I'd say Oden, since those were his high school colors in Lawrence, Indiana. Plus, he's currently wearing red with Ohio State.

Coaching Carousel Just Beginning

It's going to be an interesting off-season in the Big Ten. Michigan and Minnesota each need a new coach, and now Iowa will reportedly be looking for one as well.

The Hawkeyes have been decent, tying for fourth place in the Big Ten this season and making several NCAA tournament fields under Steve Alford. More than failing as a basketball coach, however, Alford failed as a representative of the university, alienating alumni and recruits alike with his demeanor and inflated self-worth.

Bo and his staff might be able to make major inroads with some out of state talent while uncertainty runs amok at state schools to the west, southwest and across Lake Michigan. The shame is that if Iowa hires the right replacement, Wisconsin might not be able to plunder the state's best player again (good call J-Bo!). Much like Barry Alvarez did when he took over the Badger football program, the new coach of any of these downtrodden teams will likely "build a wall around the state" to keep the best talent from signing elsewhere.

On the bright side, the talent pool seems pretty thin anyway, so UW would not be missing out on much if that were to happen. In addition to Bohannon, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich jump out as recent high school stars who were too good for the black and yellow britches during Alford's tenure. Iowa was able to keep guys like Greg Brunner and Jeff Horner over that same span (Haluska originally went to Iowa State). Do the math. Iowa actually has more talent emerging from its thriving junior college scene. Indian Hills CC is the D-1 factory where the Badgers plucked Zach Morley from and where former Madison LaFollette star David DuBois transferred into from Idaho.

Even if Iowa's talent is not the greatest, getting another good coach (or three) in the Big Ten for next season will only help prepare UW for tournament time. Just don't take Bo Ryan for granted.

Good stuff:
- Ego? The O.J. Mayo-to-USC Story, courtesy of the NY Times
- Wisconsin's 2007 All-State Boys Basketball team, from JSOnline (scroll down)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sour Sixteen

With all my tournament brackets officially busted, it's time to handicap the Sweet 16. A second chance - huzzah!

(1)Florida v. (5)Butler
winner: Florida
(3)Oregon v. (7)UNLV
winner: Oregon

(1)Kansas v. (4)S. Illinois
winner: Kansas
(2)UCLA v. (3)Pittsburgh
winner: Pittsburgh

(1)N. Carolina v. (5)USC
winner: N. Carolina
(2)Georgetown v. (6)Vanderbilt
winner: Georgetown

(1)Ohio State v. (5)Tennessee
winner: Tennessee
(2)Memphis v. (3)Texas A&M
winner: Texas A&M

(1)Florida v. (1)Kansas
winner: Kansas
(2)Georgetown v. (3)Texas A&M
winner: Texas A&M


Is that possible? It is a risky proposition to put your faith in Bill Self at tournament time. When I look at Kansas, I see a team with at least five future NBA players. More importantly, the Jayhawks have supremely talented players that play very good defense. I will ignore the fact that Kansas has no seniors on their entire roster.

Badgers Bow Out

It is a sad day. We will never see Alando Tucker play in a Wisconsin uniform again.

Tucker couldn't put UW on his back this time. Falling behind by double-digits in the first half yet again is not a good idea against an underrated UNLV team with a chip on its shoulder. How can the Badgers come out so flat yet again? Is Bo Ryan partly to blame? Someone brought up a good point on the Badgermaniac message board about Bo's pattern of starting his upperclassmen: if Jason Chappell is so worthless, doesn't it benefit the team to avoid early deficits by playing your better players right away? The good news is that Chappell's scholarship is now free for the first time in five years.

Once again, Tucker's supporting cast seemed hesitant to feed him the ball in the post. That is an unfathomable outcome considering the team's current makeup and low 3-pt shooting percentage. With Krabbenhoft missing bunny after bunny and going "small" to match-up with the UNLV better, it is surprising the Badgers took a lead at all in this one.

Moving forward, Flowers has got to stay on the floor next year. Admittedly, I did not research this at all, but he seemed to be in constant foul trouble as the season wore on. I was glad to see him take it to the hoop a few times versus the Rebels, but he had turnovers on two horrendous passes that basically reversed the good karma. Until I decide otherwise, Flowers and our yet-to-be-determined offensive post presence are the two biggest keys to the 2007-08 season.

Three more observations:
(1) Landry finally executed another baseline spin move. Unfortunately, it did not result in a basket.
(2) Near the time UW took the lead in the second half, there was a pass ahead to Tucker that was basically a 2-on-1 with Landry. No alley-oop toss to Landry. No pass at all. Tucker pulled the ball back out. Indicative of how passive the team played for most of the day.
(3) In terms of our recent NCAA tournament losses, this one approaches both the SW Missouri State loss and the Georgia State loss. Being the first #1 or #2 seed to lose looks terrible nationally. If we thought we did not get enough respect before, look out. The season was not suppose to end this way for a team ranked No. 1 in AP poll only a few weeks ago.

At least 'Do seems like a great person. He will move on. I wish Tucker the best in life and hope we can follow him at the next level.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Kammron the Coronary

Watching Kam Taylor struggle and consequently catch fire puts me into cardiac arrest. So I guess it's a good thing that I had to follow UW's first-round game via the Yahoo scoreboard. Only now, 24 hours later, have I finally exhaled from that near disaster.

Who could have predicted the Badgers' free-throw shooting would save them?! Led by Alando Tucker's 9-of-10 shooting, Wisconsin shot a robust 83% from the charity stripe in the amazing comeback. Meanwhile, neither Flowers nor Landry stepped up, resulting in an ugly first half. I cannot say enough about Taylor's second half in which he scored all of his game-high 24 points and willed the team to victory. My sheer relief precludes me from writing any more on this topic.

On to today's games ...

I'm giddily (I think that's a word) watching my most anticipated match-up of the tournament: Texas A&M versus Louisville. Both these teams are proving to have the talent and fortitude to make a Final Four run. The winner of this game will likely knock off Memphis and can easily topple Ohio State.

I haven't seen any terrible calls in this game, but both the Aggies and the Cards are so aggressive that each team has multiple prime-time performers saddled with four fouls at the 15-minute mark in the second half. I'm legitimately worried that one of these teams will run out of players over 6'5" by the end of the game. Whichever squad has the pleasure of facing the Buckeyes can easily foul Greg Oden out if he's not given the NBA treatment by the refs. Heck, Oden already fouled out against Xavier this morning.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Time For Another Load Of Landry

As much as I think Flowers is the key to an improved Wisconsin team, Marcus Landry is another Badger who must shift his game into another gear. Literally. The guy has looked downright sluggish for stretches of the Big Ten season.

Not that hitting the proverbial wall should be a huge surprise. This is Landry's first full season at the collegiate level. Landry has faced very little scrutiny for failing to remain eligible academically during his second semester last season, mostly because of the long-distance family obligations that kept him quite a bit busier than most freshman. The fact that basketball is just one of the sophomore's many priorities is well-documented.

So this year when Landry's minutes increased in Big Ten play (21.68 min/g versus 15.33 min/g in the non-conference schedule), like most UW fans, I was expecting the begoggled one to sustain his flashes of brilliance. The flashes he shows about once a month. Landry has broached double-digits in scoring three times, all huge efforts. On Dec. 9, he was superb at Marquette, shooting 62% with 11 pts, 4 rebs, 4 blks and 2 assts. Then on Jan. 9, his four blocks and two killer 3-pointers versus Ohio State were instrumental in UW's victory. Even at Michigan State in late February, Landry found his outside touch and sprung for a career-high 18 points.

But the Badgers lost to the Spartans anyway. And the ensuing games proved Landry was not quite ready to take over for Tucker yet. How many times have we seen a bigger, slower man guarding Landry on the block and held our breath waiting for the baseline spin move that he showed us once but never again? Maybe we expected too much, too soon.

Simply put, Marcus Landry is one of the most athletic, exciting players to enter Wisconsin's basketball program in some time. Badger fans glimpse the future and see his enormous potential. Next time you see the goggles out on the court, don't expect James Worthy. Just see Landry for what he is ... a developing talent.

In reality, Landry has increased his scoring and rebounding production pretty much according to his increase in playing time. Though still not very reliable from the free throw line (including 1-of-10 since the MSU loss), Landry is Wisconsin's first option in the post. He is rebounding better after a terrible midseason stretch, but that is likely due to Brian Butch's absence. If he can muster up some energy to pick up Butch's slack on both ends, Wisconsin will be in good hands.

Best-case scenario? 10 pts, 6 rebs & 2 blks and a flash of brilliance for March, at just the right time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tip-off Time Y'all

The WIAA Boys Basketball State Tournament beat the NCAA tourney to the punch, tipping off after 9 am today. Turn the radio dial to 1070 AM in Madison for the call. Division 3 is loaded this year, with 2003 champion LaCrosse Aquinas leading Manitowoc Roncalli in the first game at the Kohl Center after three quarters, 34-28. Defending D3 champ Racine St. Catherine's (who also won a D2 title in 2005) plays Eau Claire Regis in the division's other semifinal.

If you are observant, you notice that all four are private schools from larger metropolitan areas. Don't think that fact didn't ruffle some feathers. Having experienced first-hand the venom spat back and forth between public and private fan bases, I don't see this debate going away any time soon.

In other unfortunate state tournament news, Madison Memorial and Milwaukee Vincent must face off in the D1 quarterfinals.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

In Bloom

I am not patient enough to wait for April showers to bring May flowers. I need March Flowers, specifically of the Michael variety. Every player on the Badger basketball team is going to have to improve for a deep run in the tournament to be possible. Michael Flowers is vital.

Two statistics down the stretch are disturbing. Defensively, Flowers has earned his kudos this season. However, he has recorded only one steal in the past five games (albeit against pretty good competition). Offensively, where Wisconsin's struggles lie, the junior has been largely absent since Big Ten play began. Incredibly, Flowers has a total of four free throw attempts in UW's last seven games, in which the team is 4-3. The Badgers appear to play better when Mike is getting to the line.

Flowers is an overlooked option offensively because of his struggles behind the arc. But at his best, Flowers is forcing the action by getting into the paint. He can create open looks for teammates more efficiently than the much-maligned, shoot-first Kam Taylor. Whether due to his background as an All-State quarterback or his blacktop education at the hands of four older brothers, Flowers seems at his best when he can mix it up a little.

It is easy to become a wallflower doing the dirty work on a team with an All-American, a bonafide scapegoat and a coaching legend. Yet, Flowers was absolutely the engine of LaFollette's state title run in 2002 -- as a high school sophomore. He was a point guard, a floor general and a leader. Flowers has the heart to resume that role and he must join Alando Tucker in guiding this team.

Best-case scenario? Flowers averages 9 points, 5 boards, 5 dimes & 2 steals in six glorious games.

In other (old) news:
- Wisconsin is the Michigan of the women's basketball
- Syracuse "snubbed" again?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Broken Badgers

AP Photo/Brian Kersey

I wish my first post came under better circumstances. All in all, we saw a brutal finish to the Big Ten Conference Tournament.

Wisconsin did not display the heart of a champion this afternoon. The Badgers folded "like a two-dollar bill." Instead of attacking the intimidating Greg Oden, Wisconsin abandoned any semblance of an interior game plan, jacking up 23 three-pointers (shooting an abysmal 17.4%). Personally, I would have rather seen them go down swinging. I know Greg Stiemsma was ready to take a few swings ... something about Oden's beard gets the Steamer in a chippy mood.

Oddly enough, there were positives. Kam Taylor struggled through a tough first half to lead the team in scoring. He had a decent tourney and seems to have found his touch again. Stiemsma looks like he's growing into his role with increased minutes. And as we all know, Jason Bohannon is a breath of fresh air: 27 mins, 4-7 FGs (9 pts), 4 rebs, 2 assts, 1 blk, 3 TOs, 3 fouls.

The bad news, as expected: UW's bigs (Stiemsma, Marcus Landry, Jason Chappell and Joe Krabbenhoft) combined for eight points on 10 shots.

The result? A #2 seed in the Midwest Bracket and a trendy pick to suffer a second-round upset.

Do you like the NCAA tournament's new 8-team "first-round" format?

What should Wisconsin do with the newly vacated scholarship?

Poll: Who will win the Big Ten?

Poll: Who was Wisconsin's first-half MVP (thru 16 games)?

Poll: How Many Regular Season games will wisconsin win in 2009-10?