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On Top of the College Hoops World

On Top of the College Hoops World

Brian Lucas (Assistant Director of Athletic Communications)


In the fifth of a 10-part series reviewing the historic 2006-07 men’s basketball season, assistant director of athletic communications Brian Lucas takes a look at the events surrounding UW’s ascent to No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.

I was in my office finishing up my notes for the Michigan State game the next day when my phone rang. It was Jim O’Connell from the Associated Press in New York. They were waiting for a couple more votes to come in but it looked like Wisconsin was going to be No. 1 in the poll they would announce later that afternoon. Would Coach Ryan be available to comment on that?

Sure, I replied. I think I can get a hold of him. When I hung up the phone, I kind of froze. It was pretty cool when Jim called in December to let me know UW was moving up to No. 4, its highest ranking ever. But this was different. No. 1, baby!

I would later find out that in the 59-year history of the Associated Press poll, only 52 different schools have been ranked No. 1. Since 2000, only 16 different schools have been ranked No. 1. Among the storied programs never to be ranked No. 1 are Maryland, Louisville, Villanova, Texas, Pittsburgh and Purdue.

When Wisconsin faced Ohio State, the top two teams in the A.P. poll squared off for just the 37th time in history, including just the third time since 1998. It was also the first No. 1 vs. No.2 meeting in Big Ten Conference history. Ohio State’s 49-48 win in that game was just the fifth time a No. 1 vs. No.2 game was decided by one point and the first since North Carolina defeated Georgia Tech 78-77 in overtime on Feb. 4, 1986.

Though it lasted just one week, those numbers and the history shows what a wonderful week it was. Seven other schools have captured the No. 1 ranking for a single week. UW joined Georgia Tech (1986), Iowa (1987), Memphis (1983), Oklahoma State (1951), St. Joseph’s (2004), South Carolina (1970) and Wichita State (1965). My only regret is that I never ordered my “We’re No. 1” t-shirt from Bucky’s Locker Room.

The atmosphere at the Breslin Center the night after the poll was released was worthy of a game involving the No. 1 team in the country. The MSU fans were jacked up an hour before tip-off. Alando Tucker was pretty excited too, as evidenced by his 14 points and four 3-pointers in the first half. In the second half, though, Drew Nietzel took over for the Spartans, scoring 15 of his game-high 28 points, including 11 in a row at one point (Game Recap).

Five days later was the matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2. Despite losing Brian Butch early in the game to an elbow injury, the Badgers held tough and led, 48-47, after Alando Tucker scored with less than a minute left. OSU would not be denied, however, and Mike Conley Jr., hit a runner in the lane with 3.9 seconds left to give the Buckeyes the win (Game Recap).

UW had a week to recover from its losses and faced Michigan State again, this time at home on Senior Day. The two seniors that UW counted on all season came through again as Tucker scored a game-high 26 points and Kammron Taylor hit another of his big shots, this one a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left to give UW a 52-50 win (Game Recap).

Following the game, Wisconsin started a new tradition of honoring the departing seniors after the game. UW put together a memorable senior tribute video that was shown on the scoreboard. That video can be seen here.

Be sure to check out the 2006-07 men’s basketball season review page here for daily updates and links to final statistics, records, honors and much more.

Appears in Men's Basketball Blog

Tagged with Men's Basketball Blog

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