first_imgView Gallery (2 Photos)Bleach:In 2000, the men’s basketball team went on a four-gamewinning streak. During this streak they beat Fresno State, Arizona, LSU andPurdue to reach the Final Four as a No. 8 seed. These four wins represent themost impressive accomplishment in UW athletics history.Head coach Dick Bennett led a team that exemplified thecharacteristics found in UW basketball today: They were tough, scrappy and thewhole was greater than the sum of the parts.Most importantly, however, this group was one of the mosttenacious defensive teams the Final Four has ever seen. Led by point guard MikeKelley, the Badgers played stifling man-to-man defense that suffocated andfrustrated opponents. UW held their opponents to an average of 56.75 points agame. The team overachieved and willed itself to the best four-game win streakin Badger history.The 2000 Final Four was significant beyond the reach of thatseason, however, as the success of Bennett’s squad propelled the basketballprogram to the unprecedented success we have now. As all Badger fans know, whenUW takes the floor, they rarely are the most talented team. They are, however,the most disciplined, the most efficient and the hardest working. All thesuccess we enjoy now as fans can be traced back to that remarkable 2000 squad.Zetlin:Every year you see it on ESPN, whether it be for basketballor football. You always wonder what it would be like, just how cool it reallyis.Last year, I found out.I’ve been to a Super Bowl, a World Series, an NBAChampionship and NCAA Tournament games, but storming the court after Bo Ryan’sBadgers clinched the Big Ten Conference Championship last spring was the mostexciting experience I’ve had as a sports fan.Leading up to the 2007-08 basketball season, no one reallygave Wisconsin a chance. Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor had just graduated.There was no way the Badgers could compare to 2006-07 form, a season in whichthey were ranked No. 1 in the country.Wrong.On March 5, UW took care of lowly Penn State. The game washighlighted by J.P. Gavinski’s second-half, put-back dunk. The place wentcrazy. On senior night, Greg Stiemsma had a career night and when the buzzersounded, the mayhem began.It was like a floor version of Jump Around, a keg-lessparty. In their final home game, the seniors were hoisted up, serenaded bycheers and praises from us, their fellow students.We were all there for one reason: to celebrate achampionship to which we could all relate. Quite frankly, I felt like I waspart of the team. We all did.The trophy was presented to Bo’s Bunch. We cheered louderthan your little sister did the time she met Carson Daly. Then the senior videowas played, a tribute to Stiemsma, Brian Butch, Michael Flowers and TannerBronson.It made you proud to be a Badger. It’s something I’ll neverforget.Solochek:It sayssomething that you still can’t find an original Ron Dayne jersey.Dayne, thegreatest running back in Wisconsin history, is still as revered on campus asever. Sure, his professional career has not amounted to much, but at Madison heis still a legend.One of my firstmemories of Wisconsin football was watching Dayne run over unsuspectingdefensive linemen and cornerbacks. He was not fast, but the man could plowthrough the line. Whenever I watched a game on TV, announcers would be baffledby how many yards he would gain after initial contact. He had the potential tochange the game, and in many instances had to put the team on his back tosecure victories.On campus, Dayneis still one of the most idolized players in recent memory. The crowd alwaysgoes wild when he comes back to campus for an anniversary of his two Rose Bowlvictories, his Heisman Trophy or when he broke the all-time NCAA rushingrecord. The iconic “Ron Dayne” cheer by the public address announcer stillresonates at Camp Randall today.Although he hadmany accolades, possibly the most important thing Dayne did was put Wisconsinon the map in terms of recruiting. Since Dayne left Wisconsin, there has been astrong tradition of big, powerful running backs. From Michael Bennett to P.J.Hill, the Badgers carry a strong tradition of guys who many not run past you,but they will run over you.So the next timeyou see the Badgers sign a top running back prospect or you think about thesuccess the football team is having, remember you can owe a lot of it to TheGreat Dayne. Mason:I haven’t always bled cardinal and white. As a Minnesotanative, I grew up following Golden Gopher athletics. For better or worse (oftenfor worse), I cheered for the likes of Sam Jacobsen, Bobby Jackson and KrisHumphries of the basketball team; Chris Darkins and Thomas Tapeh of thefootball team and Grant Potulny and Thomas Vanek on the ice.Over the span of my lifetime as a Gopher fan, I saw twonational championships — both in hockey.That was the extent of the success I witnessed.Then I came to Madison, and the game changed entirely.Perhaps the most memorable sports moment of my time here came during myfreshman year when Mike Eaves and the men’s hockey team took home the nationalchampionship, the sixth in school history.There were several great things about their championship.The roster boasted a handful of exciting players, from the likes of Robbie Earlto Jack Skille to goaltender Brian Elliot. Any time you’ve got that sort oftalent, you’re going to be a fun team to watch.Making it even sweeter was that the Badgers essentially gotto play the entire tournament at home, as the Midwest regional was held inGreen Bay and the Frozen Four took place just an hour away from Madison at theBradley Center in Milwaukee.But I think the thing that was most impressive and made thisthe greatest moment was what they had to do to get there. In the regionalfinal, Wisconsin and Cornell played nearly two full games before either teamscored. It wasn’t until Skille found the net off a Josh Engel assist that theBadgers were able to advance to the Frozen Four with a thrilling 1-0 victory.After beating Maine 5-2 in the semifinals, the Badgers foundthemselves trailing 1-0 in the NCAA championship. But Earl scored early in thesecond period to knot things up at one apiece.Tom Gilbert was the hero for UW (and the entire state ofWisconsin) that night as his third-period goal proved to be the game — andchampionship — winner.Yes, there’s nothing sweeter than a national championship.Doing it the way these Badgers did, however, made it even sweeter.Braun:What bettermoment in Wisconsin history than the winning of the school’s only men’sbasketball national championship in history?In 1941, underhead coach Harold Foste, the Badgers received an invitation to the NCAATournament for the first time in school history. Instead of waning in the earlyrounds, Wisconsin took the title, and after that, the school didn’t even smell anational title until 59 years later when the Badgers advanced to the Final Fourfor the second time in school history.Students atWisconsin today — except for the most senior members of the student body —didn’t see that 1941 feat, but perhaps it meant more to the school than anyother title it can boast. Who cares if the Badgers only had to beat three teamsin the NCAA Tournament to win the championship?Even with headcoach Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has yet to crack the Elite 8 in the tournament inseven tries. That alone proves how difficult it was for the men’s basketballteam to accomplish what it did.It only took 34points to beat Washington State back in 1941, but that low-scoring affair gaveWisconsin its proudest moment in school history.last_img