New Sheriff in Town
Don’t look now but the best public Division I basketball team in the state of Wisconsin may no longer reside in Madison. (Before I go any farther, I would like to emphasize that the point of this post is not to bash the Badgers yet again–believe me, I’d prefer not to–but to recognize the progress made by the UW-Green Bay Fighting Phoenix.)
It was asssumed the issue was settled on the court back in December when the Badgers defeated UWGB 77-57 at the Kohl Center; a game attended by yours truly in the company of friend and fellow PD contributor Chris. The Phoenix stayed with the Badgers for most of the first half before losing some of their poise in the second half when Wisconsin pulled away for the win. I remember Chris predicting a Badger loss before the game started; a prediction that I correctly dismissed. It’s apparent now, though, that I overestimated the Badgers and underestimated UWGB.
Since that game, UWGB has gone 12-3; a run that culminated in last night’s decisive 75-66 win over 11th ranked Butler University. The victory avenged a 9-point loss in Indianapolis 11 days ago and pulled UWGB within a game of the Horizon League leading Bulldogs. It also sets up a potential rubber match with Butler in the Horizon League conference tournament with a NCAA tournament berth likely on the line.
The Phoenix have garnered the last two Horizon League Player-of-the-Week awards with guard Troy Cotton, who had back to back 25 point games last week, and forward Ryan Tillema, who’s 17 point scoring average leads the team off the bench. In contrast to the Badgers, whose recent free fall has been well documented, UWGB has clearly gained confidence with each victory. If, by some fluke, the teams were to meet again this season, it would be difficult to assume another Wisconsin victory.