The Final Four has now been set, and we now know who the participants will be for the national semifinals in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament that's taking place in Jerry's World in Arlington, Texas. While Kentucky, UConn and Florida have all won national titles in the last decade, the Wisconsin Badgers haven't won a national championship since 1941. Needless to say, the folks in the Badger state are officially turnt up.
However, a thought that was always in my mind was brought to the light by Frank Kaminsky on the eve of the Badgers' battle with the Arizona Wildcats, as a reporter asked the big fella for Wisconsin what Arizona thinks of them, he only had two words to say: "White guys."
It's an interesting thing that happens in college basketball, almost more than any other form of American sports, where teams can actually have a real identity, even if it's by perception or by choice.
John Thompson's Georgetown Hoyas were a "black" team.
Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils were a team full of prep schoolers.
Jerry Tarkanian's Fresno State Bulldogs were a team full of misfits and outcasts.
John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats are a team full of potential one-and-dones.
Bo Ryan's Wisconsin Badgers are a "white" team.
The identity of a team really means nothing, but it can mean everything. As a youngster, I'd watch the Wisconsin Badgers and think that these white boys can't hoop. Who's this crazy-looking dude always yanking his players out of the game when they made mistakes? Good grief their basketball is boring as hell to watch. Then I'd change the channel. I was a misguided youth with no guidance of what I was looking at. This Wisconsin basketball might as well have been Pig Latin to me.
Now as I've become older, I can appreciate the beauty of what Bo Ryan does with his basketball team. That swing offense is hell on an opposing team. Wisconsin always has a squad full of shooters. Hey, the Badgers aren't THAT white. (They have a point guard named Traevon Jackson for goodness sakes, who's the son of Ohio State legend Jim Jackson, and he willingly went to Wisconsin?) Remember Michael Finley back in the day? Devin Harris? Alando Tucker? When one of his players makes a stupid mistake, Bo Ryan sits him for a minute, let's the player think about what he did, then he goes back in the game. Not a bad way to coach.
We haven't given the Badgers enough credit for sustaining a high level of excellence in an ever-evolving landscape that is college basketball. Since Bo Ryan took over the program, they've made the NCAA tournament in 13 consecutive seasons and made it to the Sweet 16 in six of those occasions. Not a bad job for a bunch of white guys.
All hail the Wisconsin Badgers for making it back to the Final Four first the first time in 73 years, and here's your pertinent reading material for Monday.
The Milwaukee Bucks should be ashamed of themselves -- SB Nation
Teen fighting cancer meets idol LeBron James -- The Grio
Anonymous social networks spawn abuse worries -- SF Bay
Apple Vs. Samsung Could Have Big Implications For Google -- Fast Company
Orioles fans drinking at Pickles at 6 a.m. -- DC Sports Bog
Feds Require Cars Have Rear Cameras After 2018 Because We Can't Back Up -- Jalopnik
Nike Air Max BR 90 1 Collection -- Sole Collector
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”