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)
BIG TEN'S BEST
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.