Wednesday, February 28, 2007

One month and counting...

Until baseball season.

I can't imagine how the outlook for this season isn't bright, but we said that last year too! This is a team with so much potential - the problem is that they rarely reach that potential. Plagued by injuries, some questionable trades and really, really untimely slumps, last year's team failed to live up to it's own hype.

So heading into this season, I'd say the Brew Crew has a lot riding on it's shoulders. I definitely feel like we're in put up or shut up territory.

And there's drama galore going on in Brewtown.

A few days ago I posted this, which in the second paragraph talks about Mench and Jenkins splitting time in left field.

Apparently, this is being called the platoon approach, and Mench and Jenkins are none to happy about it.

Mench is quoted as saying he'd "pitch a fit" if that's the approach manager Ned Yost decides to take, which, you know, is a very mature way to handle it.

Jenkins isn't too happy about it either.

But come on guys. Mench, after coming here you hit .230, one homer, and 18 RBI in 40 games. Jenkins hits a distressing .133 against left-handers.

Mench's thoughts? "We've already talked about it," Mench said, referring to a conversation with Jenkins. "It's not like he's 38 years old and washed up. The guy had a couple of bad months."

A couple of bad months?!

The plus side? Yost could care less about their whining and has publicly denounced the whining.

Yost reacted to Mench's comments in similar fashion to those of Jenkins, saying such complaints would not alter his goals for the team.

"What we're looking for is guys that want to be team players and want to win a championship, be on a winning team," Yost said.

"I understand they've been everyday players. Here's the problem. If you want to get good, you've got to increase your depth, and you've got to have quality depth. For years and years, everybody said, 'I want to be on a champion. I want to play on a great team.' Then you finally get the players and, all of a sudden, they don't want to do it.

"That's where my job comes in. These six weeks are to mold these 25 guys into one team. If you don't want to be a part of the team because you've got other aspirations or other ideas of what you want to do, that's fine. We've got some areas we need to address."

When it was suggested that Yost might be headed for a confrontation with Jenkins and/or Mench at some point, he said: "Maybe I've already had one. But that's nobody's business. That's our business.

"I'll bet you it will not be a problem. If you want to be a part of this thing, fine. If you don't, that's fine by me, too. But you know what? We're here to win ball games. To be really honest, there's more than one person that can throw a fit."

Damn straight, Yost. It's nice to see him display a backbone.

And now for some links:

This is a nice profile of Prince Fielder.

This is a preview
of the season from Deadspin.

This is a column about the oft-injured status this team has.

This article calls the Brewers the sleeper NL team for next season.

This is an interesting breakdown of the team at

Another preview, this time from CuteSports fav. new site, Babes Love Baseball

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

CuteSports March Madness Challenge

Ok, it's been set up over at and all you need to get into this year's CuteSports Bracket challenge is to shoot me your email address so I can send you an invite.

Last year I sucked, and since there were like 5 of us in it, I didn't award any prizes. I'm poor, so this year's prizes won't be any better, but I'm sure I could scrape together the cash to buy the winner a Wisconsin Championship Tshirt! :)

Anyway, we're under two weeks to selection Sunday, so get yourself signed up and get ready to pick some upsets!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Corey Hart to get starting role with Brewers in 2007

This article is about my favorite Brewer, Corey Hart. Ok, the title of my "favorite" Brewer shifts to a different guy every week, but I have an affinity for Corey Hart.

I'm sure it has something to do with seeing him play for Nashville, who often visited New Orleans to play the AAA Zephyrs. Also, I just think he's a good, clutch player. Finally, I hate everything that is Geoff Jenkins. It's admittably an irrational hatred. But there you go. Corey Hart=fabulous.

The article says we should be seeing Corey as the starting left fielder with Mench and Jenkins splitting duty in right. Since I've been less than impressed by either of their offensive output, not to mention their lack of hustle in the outfield. The best possible outcome, you know, other than not having them on the team, is to have them split time. At least their not both on the field!

Favre undergoes surgery

It was one of the supposed indicators in the "will he, won't he" debate. But while Brett would not schedule surgery earlier in the off-season, he has now gone under the knife to remove spurs from his ankle.

Recovery time is scheduled to be 8-10 weeks, which means he should be ready for mini-camp in late May.

Brian Butch out 4 weeks

Brian Butch dislocated his elbow in Sunday's game and is likely to miss 4-6 weeks. There was also an associated fracture. I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds redonkulously painful.

And might I just say that if ESPN or the local news shows the clip of the doc popping that elbow back in one more time, I'm going to hurl.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Oscars

Because I'm sick and basically have been parked in front of the TV and because I'm ready to move on from that game that happened earlier that I don't want to talk about, we're going to talk about the Oscars.

I am by no means a film aficionado, so what I think barely matters. To read a really well thought out breakdown of the year's best performances as well as the nominations and who should win, go here.

Leonardo DiCaprio – BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling – HALF NELSON
Peter O’Toole – VENUS

As far as I'm concerned, there's no one even in Whitaker's league here. DiCaprio is nominated for the wrong movie. He was spectacular in The Departed and it was a much better role. That being said, the argument should be made that Leo is the best young actor in America. He has chosen good films and given credible performances. No other actor of his age group can cop to his resume.

Forest Whitaker was outstanding in Last King of Scotland. He was creepy and beguiling and charming and sociopathic.

Pen̩lope Cruz РVOLVER
Helen Mirren – THE QUEEN

The only one of these movies that I've seen is Devil Wears Prada, so I'm not well equipped to decide this one.

Jackie Earle Haley – LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Hounsou – BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy – DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg – THE DEPARTED

Honestly, I'm not sure why all the Eddie Murphy hype. He was good in Dreamgirls, but I don't think it was a spectacular performance. For most of the movie, I didn't think I was seeing a character, I thought I was seeing Eddie Murphy. That being said, I feel the same argument could be used against Mark Wahlberg. He was a tough-guy in Boston. Next.

The Eddie Murphy conundrum is compounded because Oscar loves to reward people for playing against type and "taking risks" and Eddie does that here. However, don't underestimate the Norbit factor. Voters will have a hard time handing Murphy the Oscar for one performance when Norbit reminds them exactly what kind of actor he really is.

Adriana Barraza – BABEL
Cate Blanchett – NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Jennifer Hudson – DREAMGIRLS
Rinko Kikuchi – BABEL

The blog I linked above says that Jennifer Hudson's acting just wasn't that good, but I'm not buying it. Certainly she outacted Beyonce and the other members of the Dreams. The girl came out of left field as a nobody and flat out stole the screen from a number of bigger names. I'm not sure when the last time was I got goosebumps in a movie, but I was flat-out wrapped up in her story.


The Departed was spectacularly done. It's a 2 1/2 hour movie and you feel like you're there for 45 minutes. The stories interweave and are still easy to follow. The script is well-written and it's fabulously acted. There are more recognizable names on that cast list than any other movie this year and yet no one steals the show and no one gets left in the dust. It's rare to see that these days. Plus, Scorcese needs to get some respect.

We didn't win

As Verne Lundquist just said, "The final score: Ohio State wins it."

Well Damn!

Wait, what?!

Did Billy Packer just say that Marcus Landry has nice "buttocks?"

Because I'm pretty sure that he was talking about the strength of Landry's upper legs and how he has the nice strong buttocks to keep guys off the ball.

Edit: Also, did the Ohio State coach just spit his gum while yelling at the ref, then pick it up off the floor and put it back in his mouth?

Wisconsin vs. Ohio State

GameCast here

hype than you can shake a stick at.

Go Badgers!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ohio State primed for early exit in March?

This blogger thinks so. In this post, he says that Ohio State's young team as well as their inability to put an opponent away (see State, Penn) mean that Ohio State won't even make it to the Sweet Sixteen this year. He also thinks they don't deserve the #1 ranking.

Obviously, I'm picking Wisconsin tomorrow, especially after the Sparty loss, but I know there many, many out there who think Bucky's going to lose. The comments on that post vary, but one guy definitely sees UW in the Final Four.

Time will tell.

We got 5 inches last night and are scheduled for a blizzard tonight and tomorrow. We've been told not to leave our houses until noon tomorrow. As long as I've got power and the Badger game, I saw bring on the snow.

Wisconsin love

Paul over at Uni Watch is having some serious server problems, but he's got things minorly back on track and is able to do new content.

Today's post is nothing but some UW love, with links to some absolutely great uni pics from the UW photo archive.

Check out the post here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jim Sorgi, the Maytag Man of the future

So apparently after the Super Bowl, Jim Sorgi likened himself to the Maytag man, saying he was just waiting around for something to do.

Apparently name-dropping got Sorgi some attention from Maytag and this week they held open auditions to find a new Maytag Man. Sorgi participated in the full audition process.

Since not too many backup QBs who never had a career and will always be the clipboard holders get promotional deals, I say way to go Sorgi.

Scroll down to the last few paragraphs in this article to read about Sorgi's audition.

To read the original comments comparing himself to the Maytag man, read this article

(courtesy of Deadspin)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Well that didn't last long...

Wisconsin's first ever #1 ranking was short-lived, as they lost tonight to Michigan State 64-55.

Drew Neitzel was absolutely on fire for the Spartans. It didn't matter where he was shooting from or where it hit on the rim or the backboard, the ball was going to eventually make it through the net. In the closing minutes there was a three shot that bricked off the back of the rim, bounced up, hit the front of the rim and bounced up and fell back through the hoop. The kid could not miss.

Some interesting tidbits from this telecast:

Wisconsin is one of only two teams to not have any team member foul out all season (George Mason is the other)

A stat I'm not exactly sure how they calculate, but we have 212 less fouls than our opponents.

Kammron Taylor is averaging just one foul for every 56 minutes on the court.

And an old stat, but a goody still, the Badgers have made more free throws than their opponents have attempted. This is a long standing stat that I believe was true last season as well.

This Sunday the Badgers head to Columbus to meet Ohio State. Since new rankings don't come out til Monday, it will be a #1 vs #1 matchup, the first time that's ever happened.

And truth be told, I figured we'd lose one of these two games, and I'd rather it was Sparty than Ohio State.

A win Sunday gives us the Big Ten title and I think this loss was the fire that needed to be lit. The Badgers have come out slow in the first half the past few games and haven't been as sharp as they're going to need to be to make a run deep into March. Their rebounding was non-existent tonight and the clutch free-throws just weren't there. I'm hoping tonight's loss will be just the inspiration the team needs heading into Sunday.

Happy Mardi Gras!

The CuteSports puppies say:

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Monday, February 19, 2007

UW Men #1 !!!!

Thanks to some major help from Vandebilt (really, VANDY?! way to go red-headed step-child of the SEC!) the Wisconsin Men's Basketball team is ranked #1 in the land in the AP poll.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I had put up a post stating some of my political beliefs and thoughts. I decided to remove the post because, well, it had nothing to with sports and I just decided that I didn't want to go down that road. My personal thoughts and opinions on those things don't really matter because this is a sports blog.

Basically, I don't want this to become a battleground so we now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

Wisconsin football news

It's been less than two months since the end of the football season, but if you're anything like me, you're already jonesing for it to return.

Since Spring Practice is looming on the horizon and we're all starved for any bit of football info we can get, ESPN is doing a series on the teams, conferences and players that have something to prove in 2007.

Tuesday's article was about Bret Bielema and the Wisconsin Badgers and whether or not last year was a fluke and whether Bielema is legitimate or a flash in the pan.

Read it here.

An interesting thought from the article:
"Bielema volunteered the observation that a defense that finished with better numbers than any in the Big Ten since the late 1990s had exactly one first-team all-conference player: defensive back Jack Ikegwuonu. "

Wisconsin football news

It's been less than two months since the end of the football season, but if you're anything like me, you're already jonesing for it to return.

Since Spring Practice is looming on the horizon and we're all starved for any bit of football info we can get, ESPN is doing a series on the teams, conferences and players that have something to prove in 2007.

Tuesday's article was about Bret Bielema and the Wisconsin Badgers and whether or not last year was a fluke and whether Bielema is legitimate or a flash in the pan.

Read it here.

Wisconsin notches 25th win

Again, I didn't see this one.

But Alando Tucker had 19 points and the Badgers shot 55.6% in the second half, a big improvement over the 28.6% they shot in the first half.

The 25 wins ties a season record, though the other teams that reached that mark did so with long post-season runs. This year's team did it with time to spare in the regular season.

Tucker shot 50% from the floor and 50% from behind the arc. He also had 9 rebounds.

Marquette drops second straight

I didn't see the game as I was off Valentining it up, but it seems that despite the fact that it was a loss, at least Dominic James showed up for the game, as he finished with 17 points. Before last night, James had managed only 18 points over 3 games.

Additionally, other players continued to step up as Jerel McNeal and Dan Fitzgerald each added 16 points.

Apparently we got over the inability to put the ball through the net, which is what plagued us against Georgetown. This time, it was a defensive breakdown that led to the loss. For DePaul Sammy Mejia scored 18 points and Wilson Chandler and reserve Marcus Heard 14 apiece.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

I figured nothing says Happy V-D like Rex "Sex Cannon" Grossman.

Hope everyone has a good one.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Another front page

This time it was that gave the Badger Men's Basketball team top billing.

This column follows the boys on the day of the Penn State game.

UW rewards Bielema with new contract

Having proved himself when many were wondering why Barry would name this young guy his successor, Bret Bielema today was given a 5 year, $7.5 million dollar contract. The base salary is $1.3 million next year and it will increase $100,000/year each of the following four years for the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

MU 67, Rutgers 47

Marquette looked nice and sharp as we head into the home stretch of conference play. Ousmane Barro was the go-to man tonight. How Rutgers could leave a man of his size literally all alone underneath the hoop as often as they did is beyond me.

It was nice to see the scoring evenly distributed among the players, as Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, David Cubillan and Dan Fitzgerald all finished with 10 points. Despite the fact that Dominic James is going through a rough spot, the rest of the team is more than able to pick up the slack. This is not a one-threat team.

My favorite part of the game actually came in the final minute, when the guys that normally ride the pine entered the game. Tommy Brice pulled up for a very pretty jumper for what are likely his only points of the season. One the ensuing possession Craig Kuphall blocked a shot and Brice picked up the fumble and started for the other end.

Nice to see guys who spend the whole season being cheerleaders getting a chance to take the court. You could totally tell which were their moms, since they were going crazy at mid-court, just to the side of the MU bench.

Marquette picks it up as they head into the final stretch. They play Georgetown Saturday morning and that's on one of the ESPN's. Then the have a Valentine's trip to DePaul. What follows is a rare Saturday night game at home against Louisville then Villanova Monday night.

Monday, February 05, 2007

MU moves up in polls, UW drops a few spots

The Marquette men's basketball team moved up to the #11 spot in the AP poll and #12 in the coaches poll on the heels of their seventh straight win.

The Wisconsin men's basketball team dropped to #4 in both polls after their loss to Indiana.

Brewers sign Hall to four-year deal


The Milwaukee Brewers tied up a key piece to their future today, signing Bill Hall to a four-year contract with a club option for 2011.

Terms of the deal were not announced but the Journal Sentinel learned it is worth $24 million in guaranteed money, including a $500,000 buyout of the option.

Hall gets a salary of $3 million this year, plus a $500,000 signing bonus. His salary for 2008 is $4.8 million, followed by $6.8 million in 2009 and $8.4 million in 2010. The club option for 2011 is $9.25 million, bringing the full value of the contract to $32.75 million.

Hall, 27, was the last player the Brewers had in salary arbitration for this year. He requested a salary of $4.125 million, with the Brewers offering $3 million. That put the midpoint at $3,562,500, but the Brewers and agent Gregg Clifton concentrated primarily on doing a multi-year deal.

The contract not only buys out all three of Hall's arbitration years but also his first year of free agency, with the possibility of a second if the option is exercised.

"I think the Brewers went as far as they could go," said Clifton. "They really stepped up, and we appreciate that. We had a very productive negotiation with some give and take. I think we ended up with a fair deal for both sides."

The Brewers talked with Hall last spring about a multi-year deal, but an agreement couldn't be reached and he signed for $418,000. Eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, he was guaranteed a big pay raise."

The timing was just right," Hall said in a telephone interview from Phoenix. "I always wanted to stay in Milwaukee. We've got a good thing going there. Now, I know I'll be there for a long time."

Playing primarily in place of injured shortstop J.J. Hardy last season, Hall batted .270 and led the club with 35 home runs, 85 runs batted in, 39 doubles and 101 runs scored. Named the most valuable player on the team, he played in a career-high 148 games and compiled 78 extra-base hits and 297 total bases, also club highs.

With Hardy expected back from ankle surgery to play shortstop, plans are in the works to move Hall to center field. "I think that's going to be my position for the rest of my career," said Hall. "I'm excited about it. Next to shortstop, center field has the most action. I've always liked running around and diving for balls."

And now he'll be paid handsomely for doing so.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

So there's this game thing happening today...

and I could not care less. I don't care who wins. I don't care what happens. I couldn't be less interested in this game as a whole.

Normally I can at least muster some supreme hatred for the Bears, but even that I'm finding hard to care about.

I feel like this is one of the least interesting Super Bowls in years and I don't really understand why. I mean, the Bears have a rabid fan base. You've got the "Is Peyton a choker?" story line ...

and yet ... I'm more interested in seeing K-Fed's commercial than I am this game...

Dwyane Wade Jersey Retirement

Yesterday's halftime honoring of D. Wade was really emotional and a really cool thing to witness. I took video, but my video sucks, since my seats are in the boonies, so I've uploaded someone else's video from YouTube. It's long, but it's absolutely worth watching.

Coach Tom Crean pre-taped a message, since he was in the locker room with his team. It was clearly heartfelt and emotional and it showed how much impact Wade had in his short time at MU.

The highlights of the ceremony included a surprise $20,000 donation from the Miami Heat organization to the Marquette Men's Basketball Scholarship Fund in Wade's name. A classy move by the Heat, totally unexpected and just a nice, nice move.

Wade was clearly at a loss and overwhelmed by the whole situation, but he handled him self with humility and was humble. He also specifically thanked Tom Crean and said "Coach, wherever you're at, I love you. And I don't tell too many men I love 'em!" It was a funny, lighthearted moment.

Anyway, this video has the whole ceremony.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Marquette retiring Dwyane Wade's jersey tomorrow

and I'll be there to get my lame D Wade action figure. I'll be back with pics and/or video tomorrow.

Here's a good article about the retirement and Wade's comments on it.

Oh yeah, and Marquette's playing Providence...

Oh Rexy, You're so Sexy Take 2

At least we didn't have to hear the "will he, won't he" all off-season long...

So Brett Favre is back. Frankly, I don't think anyone finds this to be a shocker. I'm not even sure it's much of a story. This horse was beaten so much in the past year, that I'm fairly certain most anyone outside (and many of us inside) Wisconsin don't care to hear any more about it.

Clearly, the Packers and the state of Wisconsin are elated. I'll admit to being among the happy, but my reason is purely that I find him to be less of many evils. Brett may not be spectacular anymore, but he's by far the best we've got. Aaron Rogers failed to prove himself in the one chance he did get this season, falling over even before anyone huffed or puffed. And while this lady really, really likes Ingle Martin, the rest of us don't even know who he is.

Additionally, there isn't a person around who can tell you who the Packers are without Brett Favre. I can only assume that when Brett does retire that the Packers (and the state of Wisconsin) will react much like one does after a breakup. You don't really know who you are without that person. Going from "we" to "I" is not going to be easy for Packers fans and I'm certain it won't be pretty. People thought 2005 was a rough "re-building" season, but I can assure you that no one is prepared for like post-Brett. Brett Favre IS the Packers. He's the entire identity of the organization.

While some teams manage to make the break-up transition smoothly (see Montana to Young) teams like Miami still haven't figured out who they are without their BF, I mean QB.

Thus far, the Packer front office has failed to show that they are willing and able to make a move to bring in our Steve Young-style transition guy. We must hit the free agent market to find our rebound guy (PS, it's not TIM COUCH!)

Finally, apparently this guy really doesn't like Brett.

Strangely, losing is what finally got us respect.

This is an absolutely stellar column by Pat Forde that is front and center on right now.

photo illustration from

Despite it being Super Bowl weekend, despite the fact that we lost this past weekend, the University of Wisconsin men's basketball program is the top story on ESPN tonight.

I was just going to link to the column, but I think it's fabulous, so I'm posting the whole thing here.

This is a must read for any Badger fan and, I think, a must-read for any b-ball fan. Basically, you don't have to be a "big name" program to make it. You don't have to only bring in talented freshman who you know will leave for the NBA next year.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball team...


Badgers lack basketball tradition, but not skill

by Pat Forde,

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Bo Ryan unconvincingly insisted that he didn't notice thousands of Indiana students spilling wildly onto the Assembly Hall floor Wednesday night.

That's about as likely as not noticing a colonoscopy. But on the 1 percent chance Ryan was telling the truth, it's too bad the Wisconsin Badgers' coach missed the mayhem.

Because in defeat, his program entered a new realm of respect.

Given the long-term stature of Indiana and Wisconsin, this is like Lance Armstrong going all euphoric after outpedaling a neighborhood kid on a big wheel. Not only do the Hoosiers have all the history and tradition the Badgers lack, but they have absolutely owned the head-to-head matchup for more than half a century. Since 1950, Indiana leads the series 79-19, including a 31-game winning streak from 1980 to '96.

"You just can't imagine the irony of us watching Indiana fans storm the court after beating Wisconsin," said Badgers senior associate athletic director Vince Sweeney, who goes back to the 1950s with Badgers basketball.

But this isn't just about Indiana. Sweeney doesn't think anyone has stormed the court after beating Wisconsin. Ever.

"I can't ever recall that happening," he said.

Should the Badgers lose any of their four remaining road games, it could happen again. This is life in the spotlight, where opposing teams can't wait to give you their best shot and opposing fans can't wait to dance on the rare instances when you fall.

"It shows a lot of respect," said splendid forward Alando Tucker, whose national player of the year candidacy was not hurt by his 23-point, six-rebound performance. "It shows what we've done as a program."

What No. 2-ranked Wisconsin has done is inject itself into a Final Forecast debate alongside bluebloods like North Carolina and UCLA, and defending national champion Florida.

Read those names and ask yourself: Which one of these is not like the others?

Wave your paw, Bucky Badger.

Even the nouveau riche Gators have a better track record as a basketball power than the Badgers. They've been to three Final Fours between 1994 and 2006 (trumping Wisconsin's 2000 appearance), and have been ranked No. 1 several times this century.

Wisconsin has never been ranked No. 1, not even for a week. Prior to this season, it had never been ranked in the AP top five. The previous program high was a week at No. 6 in 1962.

There is an NCAA Tournament title nestled deep in Wisconsin's past. The year was 1941, the third year of the tourney's existence, and the team picture shows a bunch of guys wearing knee pads and socks with four thick stripes on each. Between 1947 and '94, the Badgers never went to the NCAA Tournament.

But historic ineptitude has given way to impressive consistency in recent times, and fan interest has followed.

Sweeney remembers well the sparsely attended games in the old UW Field House, a structure that opened in 1931 and served as the Badgers' home court until 1998.

"At the old field house, we had what we called the 'Faithful 5,000,' " Sweeney said. "We joked about going down there to unlock the door, turn on the lights and pop the popcorn at 5:30.

"Now, the last three seasons, all our tickets are sold out in advance in a 17,000-seat arena [the Kohl Center]. It's just a whole other ballgame."

The school that went 47 years without seeing the inside of the Big Dance will make its ninth straight trip this March. In Big Ten play, Michigan State and Wisconsin are the only teams without a losing league record each of the past eight seasons -- and at 4-4 this season, the Spartans' streak is in jeopardy while the Badgers are 7-1.

And no offense to the kneepad-wearing bunch from '41, but this might be the best team in school history.

Ryan has built his squad like a football program: Players redshirt routinely. Wisconsin has two fifth-year seniors and two fourth-year juniors, and two more freshmen are redshirting this season. In the future-is-now world of college basketball, it's difficult to find talented players who are willing to sit out a year and develop, but Ryan has benefited from it.

The starting lineup features three seniors and two juniors, a luxury by elite modern standards. Only one freshman is in the top nine in Ryan's rotation.

Given that level of experience, it perhaps shouldn't be surprising to see the Badgers running Ryan's patient, logic-based swing offense so well. A premium is put on getting the best shots available: Free throws are great, then field goals close to the basket, then perimeter shots.

Prior to the Indiana game, Wisconsin was shooting 27 free throws a game -- by far the most in the Big Ten. Seventy-two percent of the Badgers' field goal attempts were coming inside the arc, second-most in the league to Michigan State. And they take care of the ball so well (just 11.5 turnovers per game) that they get plenty of quality shots.

Defensively, the Badgers give up almost nothing cheap. They don't reach or slap and get in foul trouble (opponents shoot just 15.5 free throws per game). They play position defense between the man and the basket and don't gamble excessively. Most baskets must be earned.

"When you're playing Wisconsin, you see exactly how they win," Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Their discipline, their shot selection, how tough they are."

The one thing Wisconsin has that pushes it beyond solid and into championship contender status is Tucker. He's nowhere near his listed 6-6, but he's still a dangerous scorer despite shooting less than 30 percent from 3-point range and less than 67 percent from the foul line. The key is versatility and an ability to get off (and make) an array of shots while tightly guarded.

"He's tough and strong like a bull," Indiana guard A.J. Ratliff said, after trying to guard Tucker much of the second half Wednesday night. "He makes plays around the basket, and it seemed like every time they needed a basket, the ball was in his hands. He's probably the hardest person in the country to guard right now. He has a post game, he drives and he finishes."

Now we'll see how Tucker and his teammates digest a loss. The bitter aftertaste can be a powerful motivator.

"Don't forget it," guard Michael Flowers said. "Don't forget the feeling when they rushed the court. Don't forget the excitement in the air when they knew they were going to win. That hurt. I really don't want to feel that again."

The previous time Wisconsin tasted defeat was Thanksgiving weekend, when the Badgers were beaten by two points on South Padre Island, Texas, by Missouri State.

"After our last loss we won, what, 15 in a row?" Flowers asked.

Actually it was 17. And if Wisconsin should put together another 17-game winning streak, that would be exactly enough to win the national championship: eight more regular-season games, three in the Big Ten tournament and six in the Big Dance.

"I would take that," Flowers said with a small smile.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for He can be reached at

Breaking News!

Brett Favre told the Biloxi Sun Herald that he will be returning to the Packers next year.

Full story here.