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Monday, December 29, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 18.0° F  Overcast
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Getting a bead on the Badgers
For complete graph, click gallery, above.
For complete graph, click gallery, above.

It was fun to browse Twitter and fan message boards after the Wisconsin men's basketball team beat Duke on Dec. 2. The nationally televised game had Badger fans living in Asia exchanging virtual high fives with UW alums in New Jersey.

But how did the level of excitement back then compare to the fan sentiment last week following the Badgers' domination of Michigan State? Can that even be measured?

You bet it can, say the folks at Networked Insights, a Madison tech firm. And to prove it, they let me test-drive their social media analytics tool, SocialSense, eavesdropping on 1.5 billion daily online conversations.

SocialSense was designed to provide real-time social media analysis to marketers, but CEO Dan Neely assures me there are hundreds of uses. It treats the Badgers like a consumer brand, and its associated entities - coaches, players and even the Kohl Center - like products. It combs the web for content (like message board posts) that relate to the brand or its products. And it assigns values for the sentiment expressed toward the products to come up with a metric called engagement.

Among Badger "products," coach Bo Ryan consistently registers highest in engagement. But leapfrogging recently into second place, over all of his teammates, is sophomore guard Jordan Taylor, a favorite of online chatters.

And, if you must know, overall engagement with the team registered much higher after the Michigan State win than the Duke game.

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