Bronson Koenig has been one of the nation’s best clutch shooters this season. He entered Sunday night having hit 14-for-29 from three in the final five minutes of the second half and overtime this season.
He did his damage in the final 15 seconds against No. 2 Xavier.
The No. 7 Badgers advanced to the Sweet 16 on Sunday night thanks to a pair of threes from their star point guard in the final 15 seconds. The first tied the game with 11.8 seconds left, and, after Zak Showalter drew a (super-floppy) charge on Edmond Sumner, this happened:
“I just tried to channel my inner-Steph Curry,” Koenig, who finished with a team-high 20 points, said in an interview after the game, right before his teammates drenched him with water and mobbed him.
The shot was the culmination of a comeback from nine points down in the final six minutes as Wisconsin closed the game on a 14-2 run, a fact that only makes Wisconsin’s appearance in the Sweet 16 that much more head-scratching.
We’ve beaten this story to death, but it’s so crazy that we can’t help but tell it over and over again. The Badgers lost five of their top seven from last season, including a pair of guards that started for four years, a first round pick in Sam Dekker and the National Player of the Year in Frank Kaminsky. They lost Western Illinois, Milwaukee and Marquette at home and then Hall of Fame head coach Bo Ryan retired midseason. When the Badgers lost at Northwestern, they were 9-9 on the year and 1-4 in the Big Ten.
“The media didn’t believe in us,” Koenig said after the win, which isn’t entirely accurate. We did. We ranked the Badgers in the preseason top 25. Then they lost exactly half of their first 18 games. There’s a reason we all hopped off of that bandwagon.
I don’t say that to mock him.
I say that to drive home the point.
Wisconsin was a bad basketball team in the middle of January. I don’t even think Koenig would disagree with that. And now, after beating No. 10 Pitt and No. 2 Xavier, they’re headed to the Sweet 16 to take on No. 6 Notre Dame in a game that they very well could end up winning.
As of today, no one would be shocked to see Wisconsin one win away from the Final Four. If I would have suggested that to be a possibility on Jan. 13th, there’s a 50 percent chance I would have been fired for incompetency. That’s what makes this run special, and that’s why every Wisconsin fan should be celebrating this win the same way that Kaminsky is: