After returning 99.87% of scoring from last year’s Sweet 16 team, Wisconsin was the heavy favorite to capture the Big Ten championship coming into this season. The Badgers started out the season 21-3 through their first 24 games and since then, have lost four out of their last five games. Even with their recent struggles, the Badgers still have a good chance of making it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season.
Wisconsin boasts one of the best frontcourts in not just the Big Ten, but the nation. The duo of sophomore Ethan Happ and senior Nigel Hayes give opponents nightmares as they can take opponents in the post and play very smart basketball consistently, which is a common theme for Wisconsin teams. Teams need a good point guard if they want to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Bronson Koenig fits that bill for the Badgers. Koenig, a junior, is no stranger to being clutch in crunch time. If Wisconsin wants to make a run, these three need to play the best basketball of their careers and play Wisconsin basketball which has been very successful in the past.
One of the main issues with Wisconsin is their depth. Even though Coach Greg Gard plays a rotation of seven to eight players, the bench isn’t very strong and could cause Wisconsin problems in the tournament, and it has happened multiple times this year. Teams like Duke in 2015 and Villanova last year proved that it’s possible to win a national championship with a short bench, but let’s not forget that those teams compiled of McDonald’s All-Americans and Naismith Award Finalists which Wisconsin lacks. If the Badgers’ starters continue to play like they have lately, an early exit for Wisconsin is plausible.
Photo via UWBadgers.com