Braun: NCAA Tournament lock for Bo’s squad
For you few avid Point-Counterpoint followers, you would know that a couple weeks ago, I predicted that the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team would make the NCAA Tournament.You probably all would have laughed in my face, considering the Badgers couldn’t buy a win at the time. They were in the midst of a six-game losing streak and blew lead after lead.Now, four wins later, including two big home wins over then-No. 23 Illinois and a tough Ohio State squad, I think I can safely say that the Badgers are NCAA Tournament bound. This time, though, I don’t think I would get ridiculed for saying so.Whatever was plaguing the Badgers during their six-game losing streak seems to have gone away. Saturday’s game is a perfect example to show how Wisconsin has put its rough stretch out of its mind.For those who watched the game Saturday, it seemed like the Badgers wouldn’t be able to pull out the victory. I mean, if you saw the way they played two weeks ago, you would just figure that they would find a way to lose the game. They couldn’t beat Iowa or Northwestern, but they would be able to pull out a win over a very talented Ohio State team?Well, I guess the Badgers are back.Before the game on Saturday, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had the Badgers as one of the last four teams in the Big Dance. Now, with a big win against the Buckeyes on the nation’s center stage, getting to the tournament shouldn’t be much of a problem.UW has two home games and three road matches remaining on its schedule. Although it might be presumptuous to say the Badgers will beat Michigan State or Minnesota on the road, they should be able to win the rest of their home games quite easily.First, Wisconsin heads to Indiana to take on Tom Crean’s joke of a basketball team. The Hoosiers have only beaten one team in the Big Ten, and with the Badgers playing as well as they have of late, a loss at Assembly Hall seems a bit far-fetched.After they face Michigan State, the Badgers come home to play Michigan and Indiana again. If you remember the way Wisconsin’s defense manhandled the Big Ten’s leading scorer in Manny Harris in the teams’ first match this season, a win at the Kohl Center shouldn’t be too far out of reach.That would leave the Badgers at 10-7 in the Big Ten going into their last game of the season (assuming they beat Indiana twice and lose to Michigan State), a tough road game against Minnesota at The Barn.The first time Wisconsin played the Golden Gophers, it blew a 14-point lead, something that reoccurred time after time during the Badgers’ losing streak. Now, though, the Badgers have a swing of confidence that they didn’t have earlier in the season, especially during that streak.With the season winding down, these aren’t the same Badgers that were NIT bound just two weeks ago. They’ve been doing what they’ve had to do to win their last four games.They’ve been able to allow an opponent to shoot over 50 percent from the field and still get a win.Jason Bohannon can shoot 1-for-8 from 3-point range and the Badgers can still pull it out.Trevon Hughes can miss eight of his nine shots, but it won’t really matter throughout the course of the game.Simply put, everything that wasn’t working then is working now.With only five games remaining, it won’t take so much for the Badgers to get a bid. As Bo Ryan put it after the win against Ohio State, “You have to just find a way.”If the Badgers continue to follow that slogan, then getting to the NCAA Tournament won’t be much of a challenge at all.Jonah is a sophomore majoring in journalism and Hebrew and Semitic studies. Still don’t think the Badgers will make the NCAA Tournament? Can Bo Ryan make it 11 straight seasons for Wisconsin? Send him your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.