2014 NCAA Tournament: Wisconsin rolls as the state of Michigan finds themselves in the spotlight next

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After a divisive performance by the Badgers, it's the Wolverines and Spartans on deck to continue to the success of the conference in the NCAA Tournament.

If one thing can be said about Wisconsin's victory over Baylor, it's that the Badgers were positively powerful.

Two miles away from The Happiest Place on Earth, the Honda Center felt more like The Tower of Terror for Scott Drew and the Bears, as Wisconsin rolled to a 69-52 victory to advance to the Elite 8. It's the first time since the year 2005 that Bo Ryan & Co. have advanced that far in the NCAA Tournament.

Frank Kaminsky pulverized the Baylor zone defense, scoring 19 points and grabbing four rebounds. Three different Badgers finished in double figures, including Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and the three-point shooting specialist Ben Brust collected 10 and 14 points respectively. Their 37.5 percent mark from downtown fell right in line with their average of 37.6 on the season, which ranks 56th in the country after tonight's performance.

Credit given where credit is due on the defensive end as well, as the Badgers put together a strong defensive performance against a Baylor team that shot lights out against the Creighton Bluejays on Sunday. They held the Bears to 13.3 percent from the three-point line and just 31.0 percent from the entire floor. While three Baylor players finished in double figures, Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Kenny Chery shot a combined 38.2 percent on 34 attempts from the floor.

It was clear on Thursday night that this was nothing short of a dominant performance by Wisconsin. Perhaps the best they have put together all season.

But as the story goes, so does the Big Ten Conference. For many, the best conference in America this past season was the Big XII Conference. Who could argue that merit, with a majority of teams being selected to be in The Big Dance with superstars and stud coaches in bunches? But now, the Big XII has one team left, and the Big Ten has three. And while this writer does not necessarily believe in conference success correlating to success in the NCAA Tournament, the perception certainly continues to brew.

At this time of year, the conference could not ask for better torchbearers. Wisconsin has been a consistently good program under the direction of Bo Ryan for much of the 2000's. Michigan under John Beilein has revived Wolverine pride in basketball, and the success of Tom Izzo and the Michigan St. Spartans goes without saying.

So with the Badgers heading to the Regional Final in Anaheim for Saturday, the attention now turns to The Great Lakes State as the Wolverines and Spartans look to continue the conference's winning ways in Indianapolis and New York City respectively.

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