How many of you woke up this morning, took the sleep out of your eyes, and then realized that the Badgers really are alone atop the Big Ten standings? You bet I did those same things and it feels good. But, it also got me to thinking - should we really be feeling that good?
After all, it's just a 4-0 start to Big Ten play and it's a Hoosiers team led by a man named Tom Crean who can't beat Wisconsin (3-15 overall vs. UW) and it's a team that can't beat Wisconsin (5 straight at Assembly Hall and 11 straight overall) either. So, shouldn't we have all expected Wisconsin to win it?
I know I did (so did Cole in our preview), and I got the chance to call my shot on Monday night on ESPNU's UNITE program (video proof coming as soon as video guy at ESPN is back from his 30th birthday vacation). So, now that we've established the fact that we should've expected to win based on history and personal thought and were right, I ask does it diminish it's importance and it's significance?
All you need to do is look into the way, way back machine to tell you just how big a deal this win was, not only for Wisconsin but for any team in the Big Ten.
It's arguably the biggest win in school history. The only other arguments you could make in the regular season are perhaps the wins over No. 1 Ohio State (2010/11) and eventual national champion Duke (2009/10) at home, but I'll take a rare, a VERY rare win against a No. 2 team at a place like Assembly Hall over a home win any day of the week.
Just how rare was this win for the Badgers and for the team in the Big Ten?
Thankfully we didn't have to do our research alone so h/t to Mr. Andy Glockner for the information below that proves our point:
I missed a win for Wisconsin in 2008. Make it 48-45 overall, 41-25 unranked, 7-20 ranked, 1-8 top-10. Now for Michigan State...— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) January 16, 2013
Now, compare that to the other two most consistent winners over the last decade or so - Michigan State and Ohio State:
From 2002-2012, the Spartans were 45-48 overall on the road, 38-31 unranked, 7-17 ranked and 2-5 vs top 10.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) January 16, 2013
I have Ohio State at 49-44 overall from 2002-12 on the road, 42-27 vs unranked, 7-17 vs ranked and 2-1 vs top 10.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) January 16, 2013
So, the point is, this was a huge win for the Badgers and HUGE win for anyone in the Big Ten. Simply put, the evidence points out that winning on the road against really good basketball teams isn't easy to do for anyone, let alone Wisconsin.
This was a rare feat the Badgers, but this also pointed out another interesting fact - the Badgers have played 9 games against Top 10 teams on the road - more than Michigan State and Ohio State - in those 11 seasons.
What this also points out is Wisconsin fans and players should enjoy this victory, because it could be awhile before you see it again, especially on the road. Over the next three weeks we're sure to find out just how difficult it will be, both for others and for Wisconsin. So drink in the victory today and get ready for the brutal stretch ahead for the Badgers.