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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%.

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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.

Dekker Shines, Courts "The King"

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Dekker_Guarding_Lebron_blog.jpgFollowing his recent standout performance at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, junior Sam Dekker was one of 30 players invited to attend the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas this week.

From the look and sound of things, Dekker has taken full advantage of his most recent opportunity.

Vote for Best of the Badgers


Two weeks removed from one of the greatest seasons in Wisconsin history, the men's basketball team will be celebrating a year that witnessed 30 wins and a magical trip to the Final Four at Thursday's Postseason Celebration.

With so many great wins and highlights, it's nearly impossible for us to decide the "Best of the Badgers" for the 2013-14 season. So we need your help.

We've come up with five categories for Badgers fans to vote on to help determine the: Game of the Year, the Highlight of the Year, the Moment of the Year, the Team Achievement of the Year and the Image of the Year.

Cast your vote below. Results will be revealed at Thursday's event and posted on UWBadgers.com soon after.

Thanks fans for one of the most memorable seasons at the Kohl Center and beyond!


Game of the Year
Highlight of the Year
Moment of the Year
Team Achievement of the Year
Image of the Year

Field of 8: Tweeting 8 observations prior to tip-off

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Following a victory over Baylor in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday, the Badgers earned a berth in the NCAA Elite Eight on Saturday, with a trip to the 2014 Final Four on the line.

Follow the team's every move via the #Fieldof8, as @BadgerMBB sends out 8 tweets with observations and commentary leading up to Saturday's contest between No. 2 Wisconsin and top-seeded Arizona.

Check out the Field of 68, Field of 32 & Field of 16 to see what you missed from the first two weeks of the Big Dance.

Field of 16: Tweeting 16 observations prior to tip-off

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- After a thrilling Round of 32 match-up in Milwaukee, the Badgers are off to California for their third third Sweet 16 appearance in the last four seasons.

Follow the team's every move via the #Fieldof16, as @BadgerMBB cranks out 16 Tweets with observations and commentary leading up to Thursday's contest between second-seeded Wisconsin and No. 6 Baylor.

Check out the Field of 68 and Field of 32 to see what you missed while the team was in Milwaukee.

Badgers preview Sweet 16 matchup with Baylor

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Wednesday was the Badgers' introduction to the Honda Center, the site of UW's Sweet 16 game vs. Baylor on Thursday night. But before they got to step on the court, the players and coaching staff met with the media to talk about the matchup with Baylor. The complete transcript from the podium sessions with Coach Ryan, Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson can be found here.

In addition, here are some quotes from the Badgers' open locker room:

Sam Dekker on defending Baylor's big men: "Me and Frank [Kaminsky] will probably have to share the duties inside on those two early on. It doesn't matter who we have [to defend] as long as we are physical. We need to out-tough them. We can't play weaker on those guys, otherwise they will eat you alive."

Josh Gasser on Baylor's strong play in March: "They are playing really well right now. You have to come out with a lot of energy and match their intensity. It will be a physical game with their bigs down low. We have to come out right from the start."

Bronson Koenig on breaking down Baylor film: "Obviously we saw a lot of length and athleticism out of them. They are quick in closing out on the shooters in their zone."

Also check out our complete photo gallery of the Badgers' day at the Honda Center.

Head west, young men!

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That tweet says it all! 9 a.m. CT departure led to an 11:15 PT arrival in Los Angeles International Airport. On the way to the hotel and then a 4 p.m. practice at Cal State Fullerton to begin getting acclimated with the west coast time zone and shake out the travel weary legs. Rumor is the hotel is relatively close to Disneyland. Stay tuned for any surprise appearances.

Field of 32: Tweeting 32 observations prior to tip-off

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- The Badgers have advanced to the 2014 NCAA Tournament Round of 32, and that means @BadgerMBB will send out 32 Tweets with observations and commentary leading up to the third round NCAA tournament game between No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 7 Oregon.

22-5 run sparks Badgers to halftime lead

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The partisan Bradley Center crowd was getting a little antsy about midway through the first half but a Ben Brust 3-pointer ignited a 22-5 run over the final 9:17 to give Wisconsin a 32-22 lead heading into halftime.

The Badgers started the half hot offensively, going inside to Frank Kaminsky for their first three buckets of the game. A dunk by Sam Dekker gave the Badgers a 10-5 lead but then UW went cold, missing its next seven shots. During that time American went on a 12-0 run until Brust halted it with Wisconsin's first 3-pointer of the game, at the 9:17 mark. From that point until the end of the half, American scored just five points, going 1-7 from the field with four turnovers.

After a hot start, Kaminsky picked up his second foul with 4:44 left in the half. Undaunted, the Badgers outscored the Eagles 12-4 the rest of the way.

At the half, Brust leads all scorers with 11 points, Jackson has seven and Kaminsky has six. Guard John Shoof started hot for American and led the Eagles with eight points.

Despite missing seven in a row at one point, UW finished 11-of-26 (.423) from the field and made all seven of its free throw attempts. American was 8-of-18 (.444) from the field, 3-of-4 from the free throw line and committed eight turnovers.