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?
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.
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,
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).
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).
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).
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.