Monitoring Twitter Wednesday night during the Wisconsin vs. Duke basketball game was like an instant, if virtual, confab of Badger hoopheads from all over the world. Proud cheeseheads from everywhere weighed in with their thoughts, first urging the Badgers to victory, then expressing disbelief that they led at half and even late into the second half. Toward the end of the game, many of the pro-Badger tweeters got nervous, some becoming angry that Wisconsin was blowing it and others gleefully, even profanely, celebrating the 73-69 victory.
Having ditched cable, I caught the game online where the chat room accompanying the feed featured two UW alums reminiscing about dorms, the Union and even Scanner Dan. One of them revealed he would have to miss the second half in order to get to a class... in Hong Kong.
Early this morning, it was the bloggers' turn to weigh in on what many are calling the biggest win in Wisconsin basketball history (What happened to the win over Purdue to make it to the 2000 Final Four?).
First, it was fun to watch ESPN's SportsCenter highlights almost immediately after the game. The production crew apparently had no time to prepare a script and the anchor was left to narrate live, identifying few of the players.
I check in regularly with Hoops Marinara first, and Phil Mitten didn't disappoint. "My only gripe [with senior guard Trevon Hughes] is that he didn't demand the ball on the final possessions, when UW got a bad shot from Evans and a lot of dribbling from Taylor.
John Gasaway at Basketball Prospectus is my go-to guru of hoop. He broke down every game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and said this about the Wisconsin victory: "Rarely has the Bo Ryan brand of no-turnover ball been carried out with such literal and efficient fidelity. The Badgers gave the ball away just five times. They took care of their defensive glass and they didn't foul. There you have it, the Tao of Bo."
Former Daily Cardinal scribe Scott Tappa was predictably thrilled on his Badgercentric blog: "Speaking of dunks, Leuer, Nankivil, and Jared Berggren got into the act, another welcome sign of aggressive play in the paint. I was surprised that Duke yielded those looks, they were pretty blatant defensive breakdowns."
The Swingtown Badger Basketball Blog dug into statistics analysis to point out that Wisconsin led the points-per-possession battle: "UW rolled to 1.18 PPP and held Duke to 1.11. UW averages 1.06 on offense and Duke defends at .87. So, for UW to score 1.18 is remarkable indeed. Duke scores at 1.19 and UW defends at .93. So, for UW to keep Duke at 1.11 is good defense (or bad offense for Duke take your pick)."
From the student press, The Badger Herald's Jeff Schorfheide ended up with the best photof of the game I've seen so far, capturing an exuberant Jon Leuer among the fans who had rushed the court.
An indication of the level of fanaticism from the Duke side comes via the Duke Chronicle, which sent writers to Madison to live blog and live tweet the game. Hard to imagine the Herald or the Cardinal doing likewise.
It's fun to read the reactions of students to the Kohl Center, particularly those used to the insanity surrounding most Duke home games: "And the Kohl center just got loud. Really loud. The Badgers make their way onto the floor and everyone in attendance stands in welcome. This is a very impressive environment for a college basketball game. The Kohl Center certainly knows how to do start a game off right."
A pro-Dukie blog, Big Duke Balls, is predictably more disappointed in the Blue Devils than impressed by the Badgers, particularly Duke's big men: "In reality, it was just sad watching how much they struggled to put the ball in the basket, despite standing directly under it, while Wisconsin's big men nailed the long-range shots and slammed home the close ones."
From The Bleacher Report, correspondent Mike Kline is philosophical, attempting to place the loss in context in a post titled Trying to explain the conundrum that is Duke Basketball: "When Duke's defense just isn't working, like it wasn't against Wisconsin, it would be nice to see some adjustments. It didn't appear from my vantage point that the team made any, and I feel Krzyzewski's insistence on playing man-to-man defense could lead to more games just like Wednesday night's."
Finally, Jack Craver is short but sweet at The Sconz, giving Bo Ryan the game ball: "For those who were not in attendance for the Duke game at the Kohl Center last night, it was the most raucous, energetic crowd I have seen in my four years of having season tickets. It is hard not to understate how intense the crowd was."