As March Madness begins, we should all take some time to learn more about the teams that are competing in this year’s NCAA tournament. Today we’re covering the Wisconsin Badgers, representing the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a power player in the Big Ten Conference during regular seasons.

While they’re accomplished in their conference, the Badgers haven’t won many NCAA championship titles, but maybe this year is their chance. If you like their chances, you should consider the March Madness odds and place a bet.

Founding Years

The Wisconsin Badgers are older than a lot of the other collegiate programs you’d find on the West Coast, having been established in 1898. Like many teams, they had some early successes under founding coach Dr. James C. Elsom. They also had an early star player, the All-American Christian Steinmetz who was later given a Helms Player of the Year award, too.

They were well established in the Big Ten in a short decade, becoming regular-season champs in the 1907 and 1908 seasons. For both of those early victories, they were led by coach Emmett Angell.

Their third and most effective early coach was Walter Meanwell, who took the Badgers on their first undefeated season at 15-0. After making regular-season champ in 1912, they had another undefeated season in 1913! Coaching from 1911-1934, Meanwell watched the Badgers get their paws on eight Big Ten Championships. After a brief hiatus where Guy Lowman helped them take the 1918 Big Ten Conference, Meanwell came back in 1920.

Bud Foster & The NCAA Championship

The main body of the Badgers’ performances in the 20th Century all came from one man – Bud Foster. Entering in 1934, he secured their twelfth Big Ten Conference and then helped them take their very first NCAA championship in history – 1941.

To this date, this is the only time they have won an NCAA tournament, which they did with the help of John Kotz and Gene Englund. A bit later, Foster would also coach another All-American, Don Rehfeldt.

The Dry Spell

Then there’s the dry spell. This is where Foster’s coaching unceremoniously stops bearing fruit from 1960 to 1994. During those three decades, they only won a regular-season eight times. Maybe it was the expansion of the NCAA and the increase in the competition going into their tournaments.

Under coach Steve Yoder, they made some NIT appearances in the early ‘90s, though not much happened during this period. Things started to look better when Stu Jackson was selected to be the coach. Between Yoder and Jackson, they had signed the likes of Michael Finley and Tracy Webster. Soon after, in 1994, they stormed their first NCAA tournament in nearly 50 years.

Return To Form

Things started to look up in 1995 when Dick Bennett took over the team. In 1997, he helped the team achieve a Big Ten record, the first in 23 years and the second in 43 years. Bo Ryan was another great coach too, whose 15-year tenure made more NCAA game wins than the entire program over the last 60 years.

Wisconsin as a state had also become basketball central during the ‘90s. They have also finished within the top 4 of the Big Ten in 19 of 21 seasons, winning 6 championships and 3 tournament championships. They even made Final Four in 2000 after beating #1 seed Arizona Wildcats, though the Michigan State Spartans put them down.

Bennett retired soon after, citing burnout, and so Ryan was made head coach. Staying with the team from 2001 to 2015, was where the second-most Badgers accolades were racked up by the program. They were consistently ranked at #2, #3, and #4 seed throughout this decade. Then, in the 2014-15 season, they got their first #1 seed ranking for the NCAA tournament.

The Modern Badgers

After Ryan retired in 2016, Greg Gard stepped up and has been coaching the team ever since. Gard had worked with Ryan in the past and seemed the perfect man to continue developing future Badger teams.

After several Sweet Sixteen appearances over 2016 and 2017, they were then eliminated early in 2018 and 2019. In the 2019-2020 season, they entered the Big Ten tournament as the #1 seed and Gard earned a Big Ten Coach of the Year award. However, the season was disrupted by the pandemic.

Reaching the quarterfinals of the 2021 Big Ten tournament, they were knocked out of the NCAA tournament by the Baylor Bears, who were on the warpath to become champs.


That’s the story of the Wisconsin Badgers, a fierce competitor within the Big Ten who occasionally get their chance at the NCAA. They haven’t won a championship since 1941, though they got close in 2015.

As Gard and the team develops and new talent is brought in, only time will tell if they can hit the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, or even the champion spot again. Gard hasn’t enjoyed the same success as Foster or Ryan yet but maybe 2022 will be the Badger’s year if they can earn their way in through more impressive Big Ten performances.