Wes Matthews has known Bo Ryan for almost 40 years. In fact, Ryan recruited Matthews in the mid-1970s and convinced him to come to Madison.
Matthews had a stellar career for Wisconsin, was the 14th overall pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1987 and 1988.
And it all started with Ryan.
“Bo’s my man,” the legendary Badger said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I love Bo Ryan to death. We speak every other day right now. He came to recruit me at Warren Harding High School. Bo spent many a day up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, recruiting me. I’ve always known he was a genuine dude and a great coach. I just knew it was a matter of time before he got his (just due). I love the man dearly. I’m running with him 100 percent. I’m a Badger for life. And I look forward to us knocking off Kentucky on Saturday for sure.”
Wisconsin (35-3) faces Kentucky (38-0) in a Final Four rematch this Saturday at 8:49 p.m. ET.
Scott Ferrall feels Kentucky is more talented but that the Badgers are a better team.
“You hit the nail right on the head,” Matthews said. “My sentiments exactly. The experience is going to play (a factor). They got away from us last year when the twin (Aaron Harrison) hit the three to put them up and beat us last year. We’ve been waiting for this rematch for a year. And believe me, Bo Ryan is going to have those guys settled, he’s going to have them humble, he’s going to have them prepared. This is a big game for (Frank) Kaminsky.
“Again, this is the ideal basketball team that’s really going to make Kentucky be on their heels because we stretch the floor, our guards shoot the ball well, we play lockdown defense, Kaminsky will pull the bigs away, Dekker’s going to beat you off the dribble – plus, the experience. You hit it right on the head. I’m just excited as a fan and as a former Badger to knock this 38-0 out of the way. Let’s get us our first national championship. Bo Ryan deserves it. Again, you hit it on the head. I got Wisconsin winning it all.”
If the Wildcats do finish 40-0 and win a national championship, though, it’ll be interesting to see how history judges them. After all, we haven’t had an undefeated national champion since Indiana in 1975-76.
Then again, Ferrall believes those Hoosiers would beat this year’s Wildcats – and beat them convincingly.
Matthews, 55, agrees.
“You’re talking four or five seniors, a great coach in Bobby Knight,” he said. “In this day and age, basketball is not even on the same level as that basketball back in the day. We didn’t have three-pointers. You had to get buckets. You had to know clock management and the physical toughness. Wisconsin has all of that. They’re not going to shy away from this game. They had this circled on their calendar last year. We want to do this again.”