We're all going gaga right now over the Wisconsin Badgers' "upset" of #1 Ohio State. Down 15 mid-way through the second half, the Badgers were able to clamp down on defense and get Jordan Taylor going on offense, en route to another victory at the Kohl Center - where Vegas lines always get skewed and the Badgers are nearly invincible.
We love to love the Badgers. The sentiment on these guys ranges from, "oh they're so efficient, Ken Pomeroy probably wants to make out with them!" to, "they have a real commitment to executing game plans flawlessly!"
Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for how this program is run and how Bo Ryan seems to find enough white guys from leafy mid-west suburbs that can run with teams that bring in players with all-city credentials out of high school. But are the Badgers really so tremendous when wearing their crisp home whites, or is that their home success masks the fact that overall the Badgers are, well, just a tick above average?
First off, let's bring a bit of clarity to the topic at hand. The Badgers do not have the nation's longest winning streak, or the second longest, or even the third longest. No, they possess the nation's eighth longest home winning streak; they've won their last 17 games at home.
Do we really need to celebrate that?
Additionally, nine teams carried far more impressive home winning streaks that were snapped this season, most notably - Kansas (62), Siena (38) and Xavier (30). The longest Badgers home winning streak in the last 10 years was 38, achieved between 2003-2005.
The real selling point that gets us gushing about Wisconsin basketball is the consistency to winning in their friendly confines. Currently boasting the nation's fourth best home winning percentage in the arena they play in, Ryan's club is 186-23 (.889) at the Kohl Center, which opened to start the 1997-1998 season. This dominance has greatly helped the Badgers earn an invitation to the last 13 NCAA Tournaments, a streak that's tied for third best in the country.
My point in all of this? This team is as impressive as Gongaza, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State and Pittsburgh when in their own arena. But frankly, those teams are often deemed very good teams on the whole who really just happen to be exceptional at home. The Badgers hang their hat on being awesome when they get to wake up in their own beds, convincing us they're great, but maybe their just distorting reality. They perpetually wins 19+ games a season, a good indicator of a strong program is how often they win 20+ games. But being the glass half-empty guy that I am, I can't help but point out that 70 percent of this team's wins since 2001 have been at home, helping the Badgers load up on victories and perhaps enhancing the impression of how talented they are. This might be why Wisconsin has quietly become a bit susceptible to being upset in March.
Looking like Goliath killers, the Badgers will likely enter next week ranked as one of top 10 teams in the country. But with four of their final six conference games on the road, now is not the time to declare the Bucky as a sure fire Sweet 16 team. They still have a lot of prove.