Does Wisconsin – The Ultimate Bubble Team – Deserve To Be In The Tournament?

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The week of the Big Ten conference tournament has arrived, and there’s one question on the minds of Wisconsin fans:

Will the Badgers make the NCAA Tournament?

As of early Monday morning, ESPN has the Badgers as one of the last four teams in and CBS has Wisconsin as one of the first four out. Neither projections have been updated since the Badgers beat Minnesota late Sunday night to close out the regular season.

Wisconsin now sits at 17-13 (9-11 in conference) with a game against Ohio State Wednesday to open the B1G tourney.

So, do the Badgers deserve to be dancing next week?

Will Wisconsin make the NCAA Tournament? (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

The case for Wisconsin to make March Madness:

Wisconsin is probably out with a loss to Ohio State, a win against the Buckeyes probably puts the Badgers at 50/50 and a win Thursday against Iowa definitely gets the job done.

Let’s break down some basic facts. Wisconsin has played an unbelievably brutal schedule. Some projections have it as a top 4% schedule in the country. Despite the brutal slate, Wisconsin has six quad one wins and five quad two wins. There’s no true bubble team with as many quad one wins. West Virginia has as many but appears to be very safe at this point.

Wisconsin has six quad one wins. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Rutgers has five, Penn State has just four, Michigan has three, North Carolina has just one (that’s honestly hilarious), Oregon has three and Auburn has three.

When compared against the other true bubble teams, nobody has as many wins. Yes, some of those teams have more overall wins, but none of them have the number of quality wins. At the end of the day, that’s what has to matter. It’s the resume.

Now, that doesn’t mean the Badgers don’t need a win Wednesday. Greg Gard’s team absolutely does, and with a win, that’s where things get dicey. Again, two victories this week should get it done. One is still very risky.

Will the Wisconsin Badgers make March Madness? (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

The case against the Badgers:

The main argument against putting in a 17-13 Wisconsin team is the Badgers failed to even go .500 in conference games. It’s a fair point. The Badgers actually blew several close games this season.

Incredibly close losses to Kansas, Purdue, Michigan, Northwestern (twice), Wake Forest, Michigan State, Rutgers and Nebraska currently haunt the Badgers. They just win one or two of those games, and fans aren’t even having this conversation.

Yet, the Badgers don’t really have any bad losses. The Nebraska one is the worst, but the Cornhuskers finished the regular season above .500. It’s not nearly as bad as it looked at the time.

However, that’s still the case Wisconsin’s critics will make. The Badgers had the chance to earn even more quality victories and failed to do so multiple times.

Wisconsin is a true bubble team. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Ultimately, the Badgers aren’t safe as of right now. It’s not clear to me the team will be safe even with a Wednesday night win. Get to Friday and everything will be fine. Anything short of that and it’s going to become a resume contest. The wins are what they are, and the six quad one victories is better than any other team on the bubble line. For that reason, the Badgers should be in, but fans definitely don’t want it to be a close call. Just take care of business, win some games and roll into the tournament.

Written by David Hookstead

David Hookstead is a reporter for OutKick covering a variety of topics with a focus on football and culture.

He also hosts of the podcast American Joyride that is accessible on Outkick where he interviews American heroes and outlines their unique stories. Before joining OutKick, Hookstead worked for the Daily Caller for seven years covering similar topics.

Hookstead is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

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  1. Oklahoma State has 6 Quad 1 wins, has 43 NET vs Wisconsin’s 78. Oklahoma State plays in a better conference than Wisconsin also. Yet on CBS Wisconsin is ahead of them.

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