Here we are a full three days out from the Badgers being bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Marshall Henderson and the Ole Miss Rebels and still yet I find myself searching for answers. No, not answers as to how we lost that game – that much is obvious – rather the answers I'm searching for are more of the "what to make of this team" variety.
After hours of searching for the right words, inspiration came when I lest expected it and I think I've found the perfect words to put to on the epitaph of the Wisconsin Badgers 2012-13 season. So here it goes:
"Here lies the 2012-13 Wisconsin Men's Basketball season… The most maddeningly consistently inconsistent season you'll ever see."
Looking back on the season I think the only words that are really appropriate when asked (like I have been quite a few times) to describe what this season was are, consistently inconsistent.
This team did it all, saw it all, nearly conquered it all, yet could never make it up to the top of the mountain and stay there. It felt like we as fans were playing the Cliffhanger game on The Price is Right, only we'd get the guy to stop in the right spot and instead the guy would fling himself over the edge just to mess with us.
Did we really ever know who this team was? I don't think we can completely answer that question and that's where the maddening part of things come in.
After all this was a team that was capable of running and gunning with the Creighton's and Arkansas of the world, yet they could only find a way to win one of those games. This was a team that went 2-0 against both Indiana and Michigan, yet found ways to lose to the likes of Minnesota and Purdue.
Wisconsin was a top the Big Ten standings all by their lonesome after taking care of ranked opponents Illinois and Indiana in back-to-back games early in the conference season but instead of keeping up their lead they went ahead and dropped their next two games to Iowa and Michigan State to give their lead right back.
From there the Badgers would go 7-2 over their next nine Big Ten contests and get themselves right back in the hunt for the regular season crown.
All that stood in their way? Winnable games versus Purdue and at Penn State, sandwiched with the tough one against Michigan State on the road. Win out and the Big Ten title was there for the taking. Instead the good ole cold shooting Badgers team decided to show up on Senior Day and ruin the fun against Purdue.
That same team showed up again, in even worse fashion, later that week against Michigan State and the fleeting hopes for a Big Ten title were completely distinguished in a loser is out battle in East Lansing.
They would finish off the season in perhaps the only consistent thing they did all season: Hitting a buzzer beater to beat Penn State and claim the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament.
However, again it proved just how maddening this team could be. Here we stood as fans knowing Wisconsin just played a bad game of basketball, yet somehow found themselves 12-6 in Big Ten play and in 4th place in the toughest conference in the country.
Were the Badgers a good team? Were they a bad team? How about something of the mediocre variety?
After all, good teams don't drop games to Purdue at home (no disrespect Boilermakers fans, just a reality of where you were in conference play), but then again mediocre teams don't beat the crap out of Indiana at Assembly Hall or against Ohio State either. They most certainly don't carry 2-0 records against two Top 10 opponents in the Hoosiers and Wolverines and make it to the Big Ten tournament championship game either.
The truth is we may never know exactly what to make of this season. In fact it's quite possible we'll always take a look back at this season and wonder what could've been had this group of players found a way to go from consistently inconsistent to just plain consistent.