Wisconsin is in danger of setting an undesirable NCAA record Sunday when the Gophers visit the Kohl Center. If the Badgers lose, they will take over sole possession of the most consecutive defeats in a single season by a ranked team against an unranked team.
Thursday night’s dramatic 59-57 loss to Iowa moved the Badgers into a four-way tie for this single-season record. A quarter century has passed since the last time another ranked team struggled so much against unranked opponents.
The Badgers have lost five of their last six games with the only win against then-ranked Maryland. The collapse has some Wisconsin fans concerned their team could miss the NCAA tournament if the trend continues -- or at the least knock them down a bunch of notches in the seeding process.
The Gophers have the opportunity make things worse for their rival in Sunday’s Border Battle and regular-season finale. The Gophers are unranked, but riding an eight-game winning streak and eyeing a possible second-place finish in the Big Ten standings. Both teams are also fighting for the double bye in the Big Ten tournament.
Despite the panic, Bracketologists still have the Badgers (22-8 overall, 11-6 Big Ten) getting into the tournament, but likely as a lower seed than the Gophers (23-7, 11-6).
The fall from the Top 10 began on Feb. 12. Wisconsin lost to Northwestern 66-59 and then to Michigan 64-58 in the same week. The Badgers recovered with a 71-60 win over then-No. 23 Maryland, but followed it up with a three-game losing streak. Wisconsin lost to Ohio State 83-73, Michigan State 84-74 and Iowa 59-57.
Jordan Bohannon, who had two brothers attend Wisconsin and was reportedly snubbed by the Badgers during the recruiting process, hit the game-winning 3-pointer for Iowa.
The Badgers missed a potential game-winner in the final seconds to conclude what many Wisconsin beat writers consider one of the worst performances they can remember. Wisconsin led by nine points with just under four minutes to play and by five with two minutes left. The Hawkeyes outscored the Badgers 7-0 in the final 1:45.
Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweeted, “Might be worst #Badgers’ loss I’ve covered. UW melted down at the end. Poor execution. Poor choices.”
Mike Heller, TheBig sports radio host in Milwaukee and Madison, tweeted “#Badgers I am concerned. Not blind to the struggles and poor play. Again-I’ll wait to define the team be what happens after Selection Sunday.”
Wisconsin broadcast analyst Mike Lucas tweeted “Sunday will be the equivalent of a play-in game for Badgers who must show that they have something left to give for postseason tourneys.”
Here is a look at Bohannon’s game-winner and more sampling of the frustration:
The wheels have officially fallen off the bus for the Badgers and it is depressing to watch. #OnWisconsin— Travis Poulson (@TravisPoulson2) March 3, 2017
A team w/ all that hype, all that senior talent back…and this is how the regular season is going to end?— talkingBadgers (@talkingBadgers) March 3, 2017
Badgers are going to make the NIT this year����— Logan Michaels (@loganmich121) March 3, 2017
This #Badgers hoops team might be the biggest UW conundrum since '84 football team went 7-4-1, lost HoF Bowl & then sent 11 guys to the NFL!— Rob Hernandez (@RobHernandezGLF) March 3, 2017
This Badgers team is the most mystifying thing I've ever seen. And I saw that one Internet meme with 6 girls and 5 pairs of legs a month ago— JP Cadorin (@jpcadorin) March 3, 2017
Big Shot Bohannon. Hawkeyes notch their fifth top 50 win of the season in Madison. Badgers have lost 5 of 6. Yikes!— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 3, 2017