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What to Expect From the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team

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What to Expect From the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team

The Badgers in an exhibition game earlier this year against UW-Oshkosh. The Badgers won this contest 82-70

The Badgers in an exhibition game earlier this year against UW-Oshkosh. The Badgers won this contest 82-70

Cade Moore

The Badgers in an exhibition game earlier this year against UW-Oshkosh. The Badgers won this contest 82-70

Cade Moore

Cade Moore

The Badgers in an exhibition game earlier this year against UW-Oshkosh. The Badgers won this contest 82-70

Cade Moore

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College basketball is underway, and the expectations for the Wisconsin Badgers aren’t as lofty as they used to be. After having the worst season in two decades last year, the team hopes to prove it was an anomaly rather than the expectation for years to come.

Last year’s team was plagued by injuries to many of their key players such as guards D’mitrik Trice, Brad Davison, and Kobe King. They were one of the least experienced teams in the country, only having one senior on their roster. With more experience under their belt and a healthier roster, the team is set to regain its position near the top of the Big Ten standings.

In the first game this season, players coming back from injury seemed ready to get back out on the court. Trice hit five threes, all in the first half against Coppin State, while King and Davison scored eight and nine respectively. Another story of that game is the ability to hit free throws. In a minuscule sample size, Ethan Happ was 4/4 on free throws after shooting for just 55% last season. As a team, they made 88.5% or 23/26 compared to last years mark of 69.9% on the season. One game is in no way something to draw conclusions from, but so far the results are overwhelmingly positive.

Over the final weeks of the 2017-18 season, the Badgers finally began to look like themselves. They stopped looking like a group of freshman trying to find their footing on the court and started looking like a real team who knew what they were doing and why they were doing it. They won five of their last eight games including a victory over sixth-ranked Purdue on the night of Frank Kaminsky’s jersey retirement ceremony and a pair of losses at the hands of #2 Michigan State by just five points and three points. If the Badgers can build off of those results, there is no reason they shouldn’t be a competitor in the Big Ten and make the NCAA Tournament. Those close, meaningful games that took place were incredibly valuable for the younger players on the roster. They were all forced to play in high-stress situations against excellent teams. If you expect your team to perform well, you’ve got to win the close games, and a big factor in those games is the ability to deliver in intense situations. Look to Brad Davison and Ethan Happ to lead the team to victories in close games.

When you look at the roster of the UW men’s basketball team, it doesn’t seem all that special, except for one player: Ethan Happ. Happ is without a doubt one of the best players to ever come through Madison. He currently has scored 1,551 points in his college career which is good for 8th best in Badger history. He was named an All-American his sophomore season and competed at the NBA Draft Combine this past offseason before deciding to return to Wisconsin for his senior year. Happ is a legitimate contender for national player of the year and is far and away the best player on the team. That’s not to say the rest of the team isn’t good; it’s more a testament to Happ’s skill.

A team can get decently far being carried by one player, but at some point, you cannot continue to win without an effort from the rest of the team. On the surface it may seem like the Badgers would be likely to fall into that trap, but they’re so much more than one player.

They’re the bitterness left over from being a part of the worst Badger team in 20 years. They’re the frustration of not reaching their full potential in the past. They’re the anguish of missed opportunities late in the season. They’re the Wisconsin Badgers, and they’re here to blow us all away.

 

Stats and information courtesy of sports-reference.com

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What to Expect From the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team