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2015 Final Four: America's Team


There are a number of indelible on-court images from the Badgers' run to the NCAA title game. A pair of Sam Dekker last-minute 3-pointers to seal wins over Arizona and Kentucky. Nigel Hayes' improbable putback late in the Kentucky game. Zak Showalter's steal and lay-in to ignite the comeback against North Carolina. Making 10-of-12 3-pointers in the second half vs. Arizona. All things Badgers fans will remember for years to come.

Add to that list the following: Frank the Tank meets Frank the Tank; stenographers; Entourage; Jump Around at Lucas Oil Stadium; the incredible scene at the team's hotel lobby after the Kentucky game; "Whose Birthday Is It?" While some of those moments may not have been broadcast to tens of millions of people worldwide by TBS or CBS, millions still had access through the Badgers' official social media outlets.

Wisconsin's six-game NCAA Tournament journey was watched by approximately 72.8 million viewers on television, including a cable TV record (for a college basketball game) 22.6 million for the Kentucky game and the most-watched NCAA men's basketball final in 18 years when 28.3 million tuned in to see UW take on Duke.

Those numbers are staggering, but so are those attached to the Badgers' presence on social media during March Madness. On Facebook, where UW utilized both its Wisconsin Badgers (859,914 likes) and Wisconsin Men's Basketball (203,333 likes) pages, the Badgers posted a total of 127 times from March 15-April 7. Those posts reached an amazing 63.2 million people for an average reach of nearly 500,000 (498,301) per post. 

The total number of people liking, sharing or commenting on UW's posts during that time was 5.2 million, for an average of 41,020 engagements per post. Compared to the 2014 Final Four, that engagement number increased by 46%.

2015 Final Four Social Media Summary.jpg

A total of 18 Facebook posts reached more than 1 million people. Included among those posts was a cell phone video of the impromptu Jump Around celebration that took place at Lucas Oil Stadium following the Badgers' win over Kentucky. That post reached more than 2 million people and garnered 807,426 video views, giving fans not lucky enough to be in Indianapolis a chance to share in some of the fun that has happening on-site. 

Twitter also produced great results for UW by keeping its fans informed and engaged during the tournament. With @UWBadgers (135,064 followers) focusing on the fan experience and larger-scale Badgers items and @BadgerMBB (126,728 followers) producing entertaining content and bringing fans inside the day-to-day movements of the team, 1,235 tweets were sent out. Those tweets produced 58.1 million impressions, an average of 47,096 per tweet. Compiling the number of re-tweets and favorites, those tweets garnered more than 4.7 million engagements.

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One of the more popular tweets was a photo of the lobby at team hotel in Indianapolis where hundreds of fans greeted the team as they returned from Lucas Oil Stadium after defeating Kentucky. Through the magic of Twitter, more than 230,000 people were able to share that moment as the tweet produced 35,343 photo views.

The growth of the @BadgerMBB account was staggering. Heading into the tournament with a goal of growing the follower base to 100,000, the Badgers saw the account speed past that in the second round and finish the 24-day period at +48,287 followers, an increase of 65%. The 860 tweets from @BadgerMBB averaged 101,057 impressions with an engagement rate of 8.66%.

The @BadgerMBB watermark showed up everywhere from SportsCenter to the Today Show to MSNBC as it followed two of the biggest off-the-court stories of the NCAA tournament: Nigel Hayes' infatuation with stenographers and Frank the Tank (Kaminsky) meeting the orginal Frank the Tank (actor Will Ferrell). The legend of the stenographers began with a single tweet from @BadgerMBB following the post-game press conference after UW's opening game. When Kaminsky met Ferrell at the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, that @BadgerMBB photo was the lone image of the historic meeting.
Lastly, on Instagram, Wisconsin again utilized its two accounts, WisconsinBadgers (93.6K followers) and BadgerMBB (64.8K followers) to bring fans inside the tournament. Between the two accounts, 247 posts were made resulting in 1.25 million engagements. The WisconsinBadgers account grew by 28%, adding 19,800 followers while the BadgerMBB account more than doubled, adding 31,700 followers.

If you add it all up, the Badgers' social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram reached more than 122.8 million people. According to engagor, developers of a social media monitoring and analytics software, UW was the most mentioned of the Sweet 16 teams in social media from March 24-April 7. They outdistanced Kentucky, the second-most mentioned team, by 41% and Michigan State, which placed a distant third, by 396%. Wisconsin also took the crown as "most engaging team," with Kentucky and Duke placing second and third.

In terms of total digital conversation including social, blogs, news sources and forums, Wisconsin far outdistanced the three other Final Four participants. According to Hootsuite's uberVU, the Badgers' "Share of Voice" (the number of online mentions of a brand compared to other brands in the industry) was 68%. Kentucky was second at 14%. When looking solely at Twitter, mentions of Wisconsin received 213 million impressions. No other Final Four team was higher than 55 million.


The Dallas Cowboys have long been known as "America's Team." Looking at these numbers, it seems they may have to share that title with the Wisconsin men's basketball team, at least for those three weeks in March.

MADISON, Wis. - For the 17th-straight season, the Wisconsin men's basketball team will be dancing in March. That streak, tied for the fourth-longest active streak in the country, is impressive on its own.

However, when coupled with the success of the football team since Barry Alvarez took over in 1990, the results are amazing. The Badgers have participated in a bowl game and made the NCAA tournament every year since 2002-03. That run of 13 straight seasons of going bowling and playing in the tourney is by far the longest streak in the country.

Big Ten rival Michigan State has the second-longest streak in the country at eight-straight seasons. After that, Louisville and San Diego State have put together five-year runs. But no other school in the country has done it for more than four consecutive years.

If you wanted to go back even further, since the 1996-97 season, UW has played in 18 bowl games and 18 NCAA tournaments. That combined 36 postseason appearances also leads the nation. Coming in at No. 2 is Texas, with 34 total appearances (17 bowl games and 17 NCAA tourneys), followed by Florida with 33 (19 bowl games and 14 NCAA tourneys).

Individually, the Badgers boasted two of their respective sports' best in Melvin Gordon and Frank Kaminsky. If, as expected, Kaminsky is named a finalist for the John Wooden Award, Wisconsin would be the only school in the country to have multiple Heisman Trophy and Wooden Award finalists since 2006-07. Kaminsky would join Alando Tucker, a 2007 Wooden finalist, while Gordon and Montee Ball have both been Heisman finalists in the last four years.

Maintaining the Badgers' high level of success in both sports simply isn't done anywhere else.

Wisconsin's football team has qualified for a bowl game and its men's basketball team has earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament for 13 consecutive years (every year since the start of the 2002 season). That is the longest streak in the country, five years longer than Michigan State's streak, which is the second-longest.
       *   Wisconsin - 13 years (2002-03 to 2014-15)
       *   Michigan State - 8 years (2007-08 to 2014-15)
       *   Louisville - 5 years (2010-11 to 2014-15)
       *   San Diego State - 5 years (2010-11 to 2014-15)

Since the start of the 1996 season, UW's football and men's basketball teams have combined for more bowl appearances and NCAA Tournament appearances than ANY OTHER school in the country.
       *   Wisconsin - 36 (18 bowl games, 18 NCAA tournaments)
       *   Texas - 34 (17 bowl games, 17 NCAA tournaments)
       *   Florida - 33 (19 bowl games, 14 NCAA tournaments)

Wisconsin had both the Chicago Tribune Silver Football (Big Ten MVP) winner (Melvin Gordon) and the player of the year in men's basketball (Frank Kaminsky). That has only happened eight other times in Big Ten history and just once in the last 33 years (Indiana in 2001-02: Antwaan Randle El and Jared Jeffries).


All this success has not gone unnoticed. Frank Kaminsky graces the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, marking the eighth time in the last calendar year that a Badger has been featured on the cover of the preeminent sports magazine. Kaminsky himself has been on the cover three times since last March, making him the only athlete, college or pro, to be featured on the cover more than twice in that time.

In addition to Kaminsky, Melvin Gordon appeared on the cover in November, Josh Gasser was featured with Kaminsky when the Badgers made the Final Four and former UW athletes Russell Wilson (twice), J.J. Watt and Ryan McDonough have been cover boys.

Badger Rewind: Outback Bowl

Badgers react to Outback Bowl win

Monday Twitter chat recap

Today in Tampa: Hockey and bowling

Splitsville Bowling photo gallery

The week has started a little slowly for the Badgers in the score column. So far, in the two official Outback Bowl competitions, UW has come up short. Luckily the only score that counts is the one from the field on Thursday. Senior WR Kenzel Doe has a theory on that.

Badgers + Packers = everyone wins!

Photos from practice No. 2 in Tampa


Practice No. 2 photo gallery

Badgers, Tigers hook up for post-practice activities

Hospital visit photo gallery

When practice ended for Wisconsin and Auburn on Saturday, players from the two teams got together to visit patients at nearby Tampa General Hospital. Representing the Badgers were Sam Arneson, Josh Harrison, Rob Havenstein, Warren Herring, Jake Keefer, Leo Musso, Joel Stave, Eric Steffes, Derek Watt and Konrad Zagzebski.

The players spent about an hour at the hospital, posing for pictures, signing autographs and passing out Outback Bowl souvenirs.

Tampa Bay Lightning game photo gallery

About 60 Badgers then headed took the quick walk from the Westin Harbour Island over to Amalie Arena to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Carolina Panthers. Three Badgers, James McGuire, Jack Russell and Derek Straus were selected to participate in an on-ice shooting contest during the second intermission. Despite being decked out in their brand-new hockey-style Wisconsin sweatshirts, the Badger trio fell to their opponents from Auburn.

Sunday, the Badgers were back on the practice field. The rest of the day included watching the Packers take on the Detroit Lions with the NFC Central on the line and another joint team outing with Auburn, this time at Splittsville, a local bowling-themed restaurant with actual bowling alleys. There are rumors of another competition tonight, so hopefully the Badgers can exact some revenge.

For all the insight on the Badgers' bowl week in Tampa, follow @BadgerFootball on Twitter or the BadgerFootball Instagram account.

Also be sure to check out BOWL CENTRAL if you are heading to Florida for the game.

Badgers get to work

Photo Gallery: Outback Bowl Practice

Sunshine and 80-degree temperatures greeted the Badgers on their first full day in Tampa. And what better way to work off the hundreds of pounds of food consumed last night at the Outback Steakhouse Team Dinner than by practicing for 90 minutes in the hot sun.

Following a Saturday morning consisting of breakfast and position meetings, the Badgers made the short drive from the team hotel to the University of Tampa. The 16-period practice started around noon local time and included about a 20-minute scrimmage session.

"It was a good work day," head coach Barry Alvarez said. "I wanted to have a little scrimmage so guys could get their pads set, and get back into the flow of playing physical football after having some time off. I thought we accomplished that and the guys had a lot of energy."

A number of former Badgers who are living in the Tampa area came out to practice, including John Hall, Jason Maniecki, Kenny Stills and Jerry Wunsch. They each addressed the team afterwards, talking about how special it was to be a Badger and how proud they were of the current team's accomplishments.

Following practice, a group of about 10 Badgers, including tackle Rob Havenstein, defensive tackle Warren Herring, quarterback Joel Stave and fullnback Derek Watt were off to Tampa General Hospital to visit some sick kids. Tonight, about 60 members of the team will make the short walk to Amalie Arena to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Carolina Hurricanes. James McGuire, Jack Russell and Derek Straus are tentatively scheduled to take on three members of the Auburn Tigers in a contest during the second intermission. Check back to the blog tonight for video.

For all the insight on the Badgers' bowl week in Tampa, follow @BadgerFootball on Twitter or the BadgerFootball Instagram account.

Also be sure to check out BOWL CENTRAL if you are heading to Florida for the game.