Surprise record-breaking scorer Frank Kaminsky (l.) and Josh Gasser: another leading point-maker.
It's a testament to the prosperity of UW basketball under Bo Ryan that fans don't give a second thought anymore to the Badgers making the NCAA tournament. Of course they will.
Likewise, it's a given that the Badgers will finish among the top four in the always tough Big 10, regardless of any weaknesses they might show in November. They'll play lock-down defense when the time comes, although it looked sketchy during stretches of the opener against St. John's and last Saturday at Green Bay.
No, the only question about Badger basketball nowadays is how often UW can win in March and whether it can advance deep into the tournament with a victory beyond the first weekend. Bucky's last trip to the Elite Eight came in 2005, and Ryan's success has spoiled fans enough that eight years is beginning to seem like a long time. The lingering memory from last season is of the Badgers clanking shot after awful shot in the first round against Mississippi, a game that a friend and I were calling Ole Miss vs. All Miss by the end.
The team appears ahead of schedule so far this season. In their first three games, all wins against good to decent opponents, the 12th-ranked Badgers have shown balance on offense and featured three different leading scorers -- Josh Gasser in the opener, Sam Dekker against Florida and Frank Kaminsky versus Green Bay.
Also encouraging is that a couple of freshmen have suggested they could be important contributors. Nigel Hayes looked terrific against the Gators, and point guard Bronson Koenig played well last weekend with Traevon Jackson in foul trouble. Plentiful scoring options would be a welcome change from last year, when too often UW ran down the shot clock only to get a three-point attempt by Ben Brust or a fade-away jumper from Ryan Evans.