Who had Wisconsin taking on Florida in their brackets? Not me. Considering the way the Badgers had closed the Big Ten regular season, not even Badger fans were all that optimistic about the team’s chances against Villanova. Trust me, I live in Madison.
Moving to the Friday’s game between Wisconsin and Florida, the game adds to scarce history between the two programs. Throughout the history of each program, Wisconsin and Florida haven’t faced each other very often. In fact, the two teams have only played four times, with the series tied at 2-2. This will also be the first time the two programs will play each other in the NCAA Tournament.
Let’s go through a quick run down of the matchup history between these two programs.
-Wisconsin Badgers 86, Florida Gators 81 (December 20, 1967)
Back when the Badgers still play their games at the Fieldhouse, the 1967 Wisconsin squad defeated the Florida Gators in their fifth game of that season. Wisconsin was led by Joe Franklin at 22.7 points per game, followed by James Johnson and his 16.7 points per game. The Badgers coached by John Erickson finished the season with a 13-11 (7-7 Big Ten) record.
Florida finished with a 15-10 (11-7 SEC) record that season. The Gators were led by coach Tommy Bartlett and leading scorers Neal Walk at 26.5 points per game and Andy Owens, who added an additional 14.2 points per game. Both teams missed the NCAA Tournament that season.
-Wisconsin Badgers 66, Florida Gators 71 (December 21, 1968)
The following year the two programs squared off again in the non-conference. This time Florida defeated Wisconsin at Florida Gymnasium. The Badgers were once again led by Johnson at 19.2 PPG.
One change from the 1968 team was at head coach. John Prowless took over for Erickson after Erickson left for the Milwaukee Bucks General Manger position before the 1968 season. In his first season as head coach Prowless finished the season with a 11-13 record.
Florida finished with a 15-10 (11-7 SEC) record that season. The Gators were led once again by Neal Walk at 24 PPG and Andy Owens 15.9 PPG. Both teams missed the NCAA Tournament that season.
-Wisconsin Badgers 56, Florida Gators 74 (November 14, 2012)
Fast forward to 2012, the Badgers got spanked by the Gators in each team’s second game in the 2012 season. The game was an upsetting dud for casual fans. Both teams were ranked in the Top 25, but the game didn't meet Top 25 matchup expectations.
In Florida’s rout over Wisconsin, Erik Murphy scored 24 points and Mike Rosario added 15 points. Wisconsin was led by senior Jared Berggren 11 points and freshman Sam Dekker scored 11 points off the bench.
Wisconsin finished the season with a 23-12 record, losing to Ole Miss in their first game of the NCAA Tournament. The 2012-13 was a disappointing one, considering the Badgers were ranked inside the Preseason Top 25. Florida finished the season with a 29-8 record. The Gators made it to the Elite Eight, losing to Michigan.
-Wisconsin Badgers 59, Florida Gators 53 (November 12, 2013)
The following year this game did meet expectations this time. The victory for the Badgers was just the start of a memorial season. This game also featured one current Badger in Nigel Hayes. Hayes, a freshman at the time, scored 8 points off the bench. Adding to Hayes contribution was Dekker with 16 points and Traevon Jackson with 13 points.
Florida was led by Michael Frazier II, who scored 20 points off the bench. The Badgers went 9-20 from the three-point line while Florida went 5-14. That was one of the key differences in the game.
Wisconsin finished the season with a record of 30-8 and made their first Final Four appearance since the 1999-2000 season. Funny enough, Florida also made the Final Four that season, losing to Connecticut in the other semifinal game.
There might not be a ton of history between Wisconsin and Florida on the court, but there are sure to be some fireworks between the teams later this week.