June 25, 2014
The Badgers enjoyed their share of success in 2013-14 and now UWBadgers.com is honoring the best student-athletes, teams and performances of the year. Over the next few weeks, we'll unveil the best of the Badgers in five categories: Big Ten Medal of Honor (June 16), Athletes of the Year (June 17-21), Team Achievements of the Year (June 22-27), Games of the Year (June 28-July 5) and Freshmen of the Year (July 13-18).
Today we feature the Wisconsin men's basketball team's Final Four run as a nominee for the Team Achievement of the Year.
• 2013-14 In Review
MADISON, Wis. – From the season’s opening tip down to its final buzzer, the 2013-14 season was a special one that will forever be etched in the annals of Wisconsin men’s basketball, as the Badgers made a run in March that led to the program’s third Final Four appearance and first since 2000.
Beginning the season with a program-best 16 straight wins and rising as high as No. 3 in the AP poll, the Badgers would drop five of their next six games before rebounding to win eight straight and 13 of their final 15 contests heading into postseason play.
UW earned its 16th straight NCAA tournament appearance and 13th consecutive under head coach Bo Ryan, who has never seen the Badgers miss the Big Dance since taking over the program in 2001.
The second-seeded Badgers opened the NCAA tournament facing American in the second round, as UW shook off a slow start and went on to outscore the Eagles 65-18 over the final 29 minutes of the game for a convincing 75-35 victory. Traevon Jackson had a game-high 18 points, while Ben Brust chimed in with 17 points of his own on 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. UW advanced out of its opening game for the 11th time in 13 years under Ryan.
Playing their first two games at Milwaukee in the comforts of the Bradley Center, the Badgers fed off the energy of a pro-Wisconsin crowd and delivered a remarkable comeback over Oregon in the third round. Trailing by 12 points at halftime, UW outscored Oregon 48-28 in the second half and rallied for an 85-77 victory. A Brust 3-pointer with 1:07 left not only made him UW’s all-time leader in 3-pointers (235), but gave UW the late lead. With the win, the Badgers advanced to their third Sweet 16 in four years.
Frank Kaminsky emerged onto the scene for UW in the West Regional Semifinal, as the Badgers faced sixth-seeded Baylor for the right to advance to the Elite Eight. The 7-footer recorded 19 points (8-11 FG), six blocks and four rebounds to pace the Badgers in a commanding 69-52 win. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Nigel Hayes contributed 10 points and six rebounds.
A trip to the Final Four on the line, Kaminsky answered the call again for UW against No. 1 seed Arizona, tallying 28 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Badgers past the Wildcats in a 64-63 overtime thriller. Averaging 16.4 points per game in the tournament, Kaminsky was named West Regional Most Outstanding Player.
Highlighted by their Final Four run—the first under Ryan—the Badgers posted a 30-8 record last season. It marked just the third time in school history that UW won 30 games in a single season.