Sweating It Out

With Selection Sunday fast approaching, Wisconsin basketball, with a mediocre resume, is in the clubhouse with nothing to do but wait and hope that they have a chance to try and redeem its season.

INDIANAPOLIS – Today might be the toughest day of the year for Wisconsin basketball.

Not only are the Badgers faced with trying to figure out how to hold late leads in ball games, but the Badgers are facing the unthinkable reality that their name won't be announced when the brackets are released on Selection Sunday.

There are no more games to play, no more chances to impress the committee and no other way to boost a resume that is devoid of a signature victory.

"Hopefully we've got a chance to redeem ourselves," senior Joe Krabbenhoft said. "We are not in control of that anymore."

The Badgers did regain control after a six-game losing streak in January, winning seven out of their final nine to finish 10-8 and a tie for fourth in the conference.

Wisconsin played 14 games against the RPI-top50, 20 against the top 100 and played the 16th-toughest schedule in the country.

"We deserve it," junior guard Trevon Hughes said when asked if UW was a tournament team. "(We have) the same guys we had last year, we lost a couple (and) had a strong schedule. This year most of our losses were close ones."

True, as only two of Wisconsin's 12 losses came by double figures. Still, the Badgers, who won only four games against the top 50, lost 10 games where they had the lead in the second half.

Friday's Big Ten Quarterfinal matchup against Ohio State was a prime example of how the killer mentality UW has displayed in the previous years has evaporated. Having the opportunity to eliminate all the suspense by knocking off the Buckeyes, Wisconsin didn't make a field goal in the final six minutes.

With the Badgers not having a go-to playmaker to deliver the final blow, OSU and Evan Turner erased a seven-point UW lead by going on a 14-3 run to end the game.

"Hopefully we can get a chance to reverse that trend," Krabbenhoft said.

Wisconsin, who was 3-6 against ranked teams this season, hasn't played in the NIT tournament since 1996.

"We feel we've done enough, but we definitely feel we should have done a lot more," Bohannon said. "We just didn't get that done … and now we have to sit and watch."

If the Badgers got television on their quick 50 minute flight back, UW will noticed that the bubble was a mixed bag for them on Saturday night. Conference teams Michigan and Penn State, both of whom Wisconsin swept during the regular season, lost Friday night along with Florida losing to Auburn in the SEC semifinals.

On the negative, Maryland beat ninth-ranked Wake Forest by 11 in the ACC Quarterfinals to enhance the resume; Baylor moved to within a win over Missouri from swiping the Big XII's automatic bid and bursting a bubble; Temple probably became a lock by upending No.19 Xavier in the Atlantic-10 semifinals while Duquesne beat Dayton in the other A-10 semifinal, and could steal a bid, and USC can take the Pac 10's automatic bid with a win over Arizona State.

Today, eight tournament games have the potential to make bubble teams even more uncomfortable on Sunday.

Compared to the rest of the country, one has to wonder if Wisconsin has impressed the committee enough to be considered one of the best 34 at-large teams. Playing in one of the top conferences in the country in terms of strength of schedule and RPI, the Badgers should be preparing for their 11th-straight NCAA Tournament.

So with less than 36 hours to Selection Sunday, the Badgers will practice, correct and wait patiently to see what happens.

"We have to focus, practice and prepare the same way," sophomore Jon Leuer said. "We aren't on the committee. We don't know what they are thinking. We can only focus on ourselves now."

Because of their self-inflicted wounds, that's all they can do.


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