The Wisconsin Badgers had done almost everything with coach Bo Ryan until March 29. Before the Badgers' West Regional final against the Arizona Wildcats, the one thing Wisconsin never did in the NCAA tournament with him was reach the Final Four. It took overtime to do it, but the Badgers and Ryan finally got over the hump in a 64-63 overtime thriller.
The Badgers had lost four Sweet 16 games and one regional final in the NCAA tournament during Ryan's regime. However, Wisconsin managed to return to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2005. It didn't start well at first, as Arizona was up by eight late in the first half.
The Badgers closed the gap to three at halftime, then jumped ahead to start the second half. Yet the Wildcats made a run of their own to take the lead back, until Frank Kaminsky took over. He powered Wisconsin with 28 points and 11 rebounds, on a night where his teammates couldn't hit many shots.
Regardless, the Wildcats still survived long enough to force overtime. It was Kaminsky who put the Badgers ahead for good, although the Wildcats got to within 64-63 with under a minute left. In the end, Arizona had the ball twice with a chance to win, but the first chance failed when Nick Johnson got called for a debatable push-off on Josh Gasser with three seconds left.
The subsequent Wisconsin inbounds play became a turnover, after the officials took several minutes to review. Yet Arizona couldn't take advantage of the reprieve, as Johnson was unable to even get a shot off before the buzzer.
With that final bit of drama, Ryan clinched his first Final Four berth in his 13'th season with Wisconsin. Between that and winning this game on his late father's 90'th birthday -- a father he attended every Final Four with as a spectator until his death last August -- Ryan became the heartwarming story of this NCAA tournament.
The Badgers and their coach went through several near-misses over the last decade to get this far. The accompanying list details Ryan's worst NCAA tournament defeats to date -- yet the West regional final of 2014 has made it all worth it.