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13289948074_f82ae0a7dd_zThe NCAA Tournament is the most exciting way to evaluate the success of a college basketball season. It’s also the least accurate. A team can have a regular season for the ages, but an NCAA Tournament run that falls short of expectations will cause a black cloud to magically appear.

A lot is at stake for the Wisconsin Badgers heading into their Elite Eight game versus the Arizona Wildcats. It’s rare for a team to have the Badgers’ combination of talent, experience, and likability; so to fall one game short of the Final Four would be a shame. But it shouldn’t be. Regardless of the outcome against Arizona the ’14-’15 season should be celebrated for decades to come.

Sports fans place far too much emphasis on post-season success relative to regular season success. When you think about it, this is rather perplexing. If the goal is the be the best team, the best way to demonstrate this is by winning a high volume of games. Teams that win a lot should be commended for their excellence rather than excessively criticized if one of their wins is not the championship game. While the Badgers did not prove to be the best team in college basketball this year (cough-cough, Kentucky), what they accomplished to this point makes their current campaign an all-timer for Wisconsin.

The Badgers got the rare “Big Ten Sweep” by winning the regular season and conference tournament titles. They’ve also made the Elite Eight for just the sixth time in program history and have collected and impressive 34 wins. This is a phenomenal resume most Division-I teams will never come close to experiencing. Because of this the only way to describe this season is as an overwhelming success. Certainly, there are brighter shades within this spectrum that will appear if Badgers can, say, end Kentucky’s run at perfection and win the National Championship, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The first order of business is beating Arizona.

As you have probably noticed, there are not any new ideas being presented in this blog post. We already know that the Badgers are awesome and single-elimination tournaments are inherently fickle. Even so, it’s important to recognize greatness when you see it. The ’14-’15 Badgers are a great team and the outcome of the Arizona game will not change this. Let’s hope they beat Arizona, advance further than they did last season, and make this post an academic exercise that is quickly forgotten.