Badgers have lots to prove

So, University of Wisconsin basketball players and coaches are unhappy they were snubbed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
I agree. The Badgers were snubbed.
How could a second-place finisher in the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament be dealt an eighth seed?
What's even more infuriating is how other Big Ten teams fared.
There's no question that Big Ten Conference champion Purdue (14-4), deserved a No. 4 seed. However, Wisconsin and Maryland tied for second in the conference standings at 12-6. Maryland is a No. 6 seed compared to the Badgers' No. 8. Minnesota finished fourth at 11-7 and is a No. 5 seed. Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan and Iowa shared fifth place at 10-8 with only Iowa missing the NCAA tourney. Michigan is seeded No. 9, Northwestern No. 8 and Michigan No. 7.
It's easy to understand why the Badgers' players and coaches feel the way they do. However, let's be realistic. Wisconsin hasn't played well for the last six weeks. Sure, they've showed flashes they can be a team that could make a run at the Final Four, but that's only wishful thinking. The Badgers' weaknesses overshadow their strengths, and they certainly lack consistency.
I have told friends for the last month, "The Badgers won't make it to the "Sweet Sixteen" and don't be surprised if they lose in the opening round."
I stand by my words. I hope I'm wrong. I want them to win as much as anyone, but the road ahead is a rough one beginning Thursday night.
Wisconsin players have a lot to prove to a lot of people, including the NCAA Selection Committee, their fans and themselves. It's time for them to show their true grit, get on a roll from the opening tip-off and show they truly belong in the "Big Dance."

Bob Lamb is a former sports editor, columnist, outdoors editor and golf writer at the La Crosse Tribune. He retired in 2010 after a 41-year career.

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