Season Preview: Wisconsin
Last Season: 27-10, NCAA 2nd Round
Key Losses: Bronson Koenig, Zak Showalter, Nigel Hayes, Vito Brown
Key Additions: Nathan Reuvers, Brad Davison
It seemed that Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes were at Wisconsin for ages. Having played on the National Runner-Up team from 2015, they were looking to go out with a bang as Seniors. Starting off 10-1 in conference play, the Badgers were primed to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin went on to draw an 8th seed and were matched up with defending National Champion Villanova Wildcats where Nigel Hayes led the way to an upset victory. They went on to play Florida where they lost in an absolute thriller, ending the careers of Koenig and Hayes, leaving just Ethan Happ behind.
Moving on to this year, it will be interesting to see how Greg Gard adapts to life without a very experienced team. Along with Happ the Badgers bring back Senior guard Jordan Hill, who has proven to provide some valuable minutes in the past few seasons. I would expect him to start in the backcourt alongside sophomore D’mitrik Trice. A very intriguing piece on this Wisconsin roster, Trice, younger brother of former MSU star Travis, was extremely efficient from the field last season. I expect him to be a consistent presence all season for Coach Gard. On the wings I would expect an uptick in minutes for Junior Khalil Iverson, who is a capable two way player. A name that you may not have heard before is Alex Illikainen, a Junior PF who was a 4* recruit out of high school. Look for him to have an expanded role this year alongside ethan Happ. Although the makeup of this roster may be somewhat iffy, I would not imagine that much of a step back from the Badgers. Year after year, Wisconsin basketball is relevant. They never bring in big recruits, yet they find a way each year. I expect them to continue with the same this year.
Even with losing four seniors, the Badgers return their most critical piece, Ethan Happ. In the CPP top 100 I ranked Happ as the number one player not only in the Big Ten, but the entire nation. Probably the most skilled post player in the country, Happ has proven he can score at will. His prowess in the paint is unmatched; if he is able to up his free throw numbers – look out. Coming off a 14 ppg 9 rpg season as the second option in the offense, I expect Happ can only go up from a solid past campaign.
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: D’mitrik Trice
SG: Jordan Hill
SF: Khalil Iverson
PF: Alex Illikainen
C: Ethan Happ