2013-14: 30-8 (12-6 Big Ten)
In-conference offense: 1.13 points per possession (3rd)
In-conference defense: 1.05 points per possession (7th)
There are aspects of Bo Ryan's program on and off the court that can be counted on like clockwork. Last season, by improving some of the more variable components of his club's profile, Ryan took his team further than it's ever gone in his tenure. But this was no one-year peak, no culmination of something Ryan has been building toward during his 13 seasons in Madison. No, that was just the beginning.
There didn't seem to be anything special about Ryan's roster entering last season, with the possible exception of Sam Dekker, a former high school All-American and bona fide first-round NBA prospect. Beyond that, there was the usual mix of veterans and developing players, some of whom had redshirted to enhance their skills, absorb Ryan's systems and mature on and off the court. To say Ryan has never had high-level recruits isn't entirely accurate, though he's not going toe-to-toe with John Calipari in the living room. Nevertheless, his constant system and program of player development were the tentpoles of a high-level program long on consistency and short on flash.
Now, the Badgers are, to borrow a common sports parlance, loaded. They are loaded because Ryan signed impact recruits like Dekker and Nigel Hayes. They're loaded because Frank Kaminsky went from a 10-minute big man to one of the biggest matchup nightmares in college basketball. They're loaded because the role players are talented and perfect for Ryan's system. And they're loaded because other than departing senior Ben Brust, all of the players from last year's very good team are back. One season after earning his first Final Four berth, Ryan has a team very capable of winning a national title.