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Bo Ryan’s first trip to the Final Four will be the first without his father

Mar 29, 2014, 11:26 PM EDT

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AP Photo

“This is for Butch.”

That’s what Bo Ryan told Craig Sager in his post game interview after his No. 2 seeded Wisconsin Badgers advanced to the first Final Four in Ryan’s 13-year tenure with the program with a thrilling, exhilarating 64-63 overtime win over top seed Arizona.

If you don’t know the story, it’s touching and heart-breaking all at the same time. Butch Ryan is Bo’s father. Butch and Bo were mainstays at the Final Four every year, with Butch decidedly the more popular of the two.

“More people knew my dad at Final Fours than me,” Ryan told ESPN.com after their win over Baylor on Thursday night. “It was our bonding time. Hell, I always had time there ’cause I’ve never been able to play in one of the dang things.”

Well, now he will be, but he’ll be doing it without his dad there to see him. Butch passed away in August. Saturday would have been his 90th birthday.

MOREArizona’s defense costs them a trip to the Final Four

“I’ll tell you, it’s going to be tough to be there coaching without him,” Ryan said, holding back tears, during his postgame interview. “I can’t imagine him or my mom being any happier. I’m happy that I’ve been able to be on the sideline and do this thing called coaching because my parents gave me the opportunity.”

For Wisconsin, this will be their first Final Four since 2000, when the program was still under the watchful eye of Dick Bennett. Ryan took over in 2001, and while he’s finished in the top four of the Big Ten regular season standings in every single season that he’s been in Madison, this was just his second trip to the Elite 8 and his first to college basketball’s final weekend as a coach, not a fan.

And here’s the kicker: Wisconsin is going to have a real chance to win this thing. Frank Kaminsky may be the single most difficult matchup left in the tournament, Sam Dekker is a future draft pick, Nigel Hayes will be a star next season and Wisconsin’s back court is as tough as any that you’ll find.

The Final Four is still a week away, however, so for now the Badgers are going to celebrate this win.

They’re going to celebrate with their coach.

“I’m honored to be a part of this,” Kaminsky said.

  1. barkleyblows - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    Good. Another game with cry baby.

    • bigmeechy74 - Mar 30, 2014 at 2:15 AM

      You aren’t even good at trolling. At least you gave yourself thumbs up though

  2. jjh1982 - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    Seems to me your the one crying

  3. inhokewetrust - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    BIG 10 BIG 10 BIG 10

  4. barkleyblows - Mar 30, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    Bo Ryan is a douche. Couldn’t careless about his dad. Just saying

    • jimeejohnson - Mar 30, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      You jealous that you aren’t smart or athletic?

  5. balfe13 - Mar 30, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    Oh, the irony of someone with the name “barkleyblows” calling someone like Bo Ryan a douche on an internet message board.
    Great article, thanks for sharing the story.

  6. greej1938l - Mar 30, 2014 at 12:30 AM

    Ban Barkley? What a weenie.

  7. milkcan44 - Mar 30, 2014 at 12:31 AM

    Too bad his dad couldn’t see the Final Four, but I like Bo’s sense of humor. At the Big 10 Tournament they were getting killed by Michigan State at halftime. Coming out of the locker room, the lady announcer was ready to ask Bo the usual like “What did you tell your team at halftime?” or “What do you need to get back in this game?”. Instead Bo walked up to her and said “I’m looking for my team, have you seen them?”

  8. jackrabbitz - Mar 30, 2014 at 1:13 AM

    Great game! So happy for Bo to finally get to a final four, ON WISCONSIN!!!

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