Wisconsin holds nation’s longest bowl bid/NCAA tourney streak

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With the NCAA men’s basketball tournament set to tip-off Tuesday evening, here’s a little tidbit, courtesy of the Wisconsin sports information department, that you may find of interest.  Or not.  One of the two.

Following the 2014 regular season, the UW football team played — and beat — Auburn in the Outback Bowl. The Badgers men’s basketball team, meanwhile, won the Big Ten conference tournament and thus an automatic berth, to go along with a No. 1 seed, in the NCAA tournament.  This marks the 13th straight season that the football team qualified for a bowl and the hoops team earned a tourney bid, the longest such streak in the country.

The last time the Badgers failed to pull off that double-double was the 2001-2002 season, when Barry Alvarez‘s squad went 5-7 and weren’t bowl-eligible.  The hoops team has made the NCAA tourney every year since the latter part of last century, beginning with the 1999-2000 season.  The dual-sport success, though, stretches back even further:

Since the start of the 1996 season, Wisconsin’s football and men’s basketball teams have combined for more bowl appearances and NCAA tournament appearances than any other school in the country. The Badgers have played in 18 bowl games and 18 NCAA tournaments over that span, for a total of 36. Texas ranks second with 17 bowl appearances and 17 NCAA tournaments (34) while Florida is third (19 bowl games, 14 NCAA tournaments).

The FBS program with the second-longest streak?  Fellow Big Ten member Michigan State, which has gone eight straight years with bids to both bowls and the tourney.

Louisville and San Diego State are next up with five straight years.  Those four mentioned are the only schools with streaks longer than four years according to UW.