Acing the finals

Ryan, ever superstitious, won't go there much, so that's why you ask his old friend Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez.

"Oh, he wants it bad," Alvarez says. "Because, I would think he's gotta get tired of hearing that bulls---. I mean, he's a great coach. He goes down to the wire against Syracuse (in 2012), it goes down to the last possession, and it doesn't go his way. Now all of a sudden he's a lousy coach?"

No, Bo Ryan is a very good coach, partly because Butch taught him that -- and a few tricks, too.

Such as the time Bo's Little League coach had to work, and Butch took over. They were down 11-5 in the top of the last inning and nobody on the team seemed too worked up about it. So Butch had them pack everything up -- bats, balls, all of it. If they didn't care, he didn't care. "Everybody on the team starts yelling, crying," Bo remembers. "Not me. I knew what he was doing. ... Sure as I'm sitting here, we come back and win 12-11. So I learned early -- sometimes you send messages in different ways."

Bo's message to Wisconsin this close to paradise?

"Thank you for giving me 40 more minutes of basketball with you guys," he told his team.

And now, at 66, he waits for one more try at a ticket to a real Final Four, a Wisconsin Final Four, a Final Four that could give him the national championship he wants like he wants his next breath.

And if he loses Saturday?

"Man, I'm going to be looking for some company."

And that's when it's really going to hurt.

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