The Wisconsin Badgers gave coach Bo Ryan his first-ever Final Four appearance last season; they have a great chance to get back to the Final Four once again, but would you bet on it? Wisconsin really could be a No. 1 seed this upcoming season as the Badgers are in a position to make a run at the title.
How The Team Has Changed
The thing to pay attention to in terms of Wisconsin's changes this season is that the Badgers really won't change all that much. There was only one senior on last year's roster, and the one player who made a real splash with scouts and a lot of NBA talent evaluators was willing to come back to Madison for another season instead of bolting to the pros. Frank Kaminsky became a tremendous center for Wisconsin. He was able to bang and play with his back to the basket in the low post, but that was hardly all he did. He performed many more tasks than just shot-blocking and protecting the rim. He was able to shoot three-pointers. He was able to beat defenders in man-to-man situations off the dribble. With Kaminsky back, everything remains possible for this team, especially since the wing players are coming back to surround him. With Ryan no longer having to deal with “never having reached the Final Four,” Wisconsin should be more confident at the start of a season than it's been in a long time. The Badgers should feel that they can deal with all of the ups and downs that are part of a college basketball season.
What To Expect
The Badgers, in the past, normally defended well but struggled to score, however last season's team was different. Wisconsin played a number of very high-scoring games, and was more than a conservative defensive team because of Kaminsky's ability to open up the court, and create freedom for the small forwards and shooting guards. If defenses doubleteamed Kaminsky, they paid a big price, and this is why Wisconsin worked so well together on offense. Sam Dekker and Josh Gasser are going to be the main pieces to the puzzle in support of Kaminsky. They are highly experienced and very proven players who are going to get plenty of opportunities to score. They should not be expected to miss them very often.
Traevon Jackson comes back at the point guard spot, too, so this offense is very likely to have a lot of continuity and flow. This is a team that is going to work very well together. This will mean a lot on the offensive side, but it should also make this team's defense better, as well. Wisconsin can improve on what it did as a defense last season. What will also help the Badgers is that a number of the Big Ten's best players, such as Adreian Payne and Gary Harris (Michigan State) plus Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III (Michigan), will no longer be around. The Badgers are in position to win the league and get a very high NCAA tournament seed.
The Badgers will win the Big Ten, but consecutive Final Fours is just not likely. This isn't a commentary on the team itself, but on the odds of having everything go just right in two straight seasons; we just can't recommend that happening as a NCAA pick.
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