March Madness is right around the corner. That means that teams are going to be putting on their best performances in order to boost their resume before the tournament. The Big Ten has consistently been on top of the college basketball world the whole season. Teams like Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin basketball have been featured in the top-25 all year.
Wisconsin is a team that have had eyes on them all season. They have fluctuated the most out of the upper-tier Big Ten teams in the top-25. They have been ranked as high as four and as low as 21. The Badgers entered the season as the No. 7-ranked team, and they are currently ranked at 21. Joe Lunardi currently has the Badgers projected as a five seed for the NCAA Tournament.
Wisconsin Basketball – Experience
It is often said that experience is one of the biggest factors in March Madness. The Badgers are one of the oldest teams in college basketball. Their starting lineup has an average age of 22.6 years. Of the eight players who have appeared in at least 22 games, six of them are seniors. With their age, Wisconsin has shown their ability to take care of the ball, proved by their nine turnovers a game compared to turning their opponents over 11 times per game. Senior D’Mitrik Trice leads the Badgers in scoring, at 13.5 points per game (PPG). Another senior, Micah Potter, has produced a “breakout” season, averaging 12 and 6 on 50% shooting. This has been big for Wisconsin, as preseason presumed leader Nate Reuvers has struggled scoring.
The two who aren’t seniors are freshman Jonathan Davis and sophomore Tyler Wahl. It seems like the “experienced culture” in Madison has made the two look and play like seniors. The two average 12 PPG between them and both shoot over 31% from three. When Brad Davison, Trice or Potter have been off of their game, Davis and Wahl’s energy have picked the Badgers up.
Wisconsin Basketball – Resume
The Badgers have had an up and down experience in the Big Ten this season. They have wins over Minnesota, Rutgers and Maryland. They also beat Michigan State, when the Spartans were ranked 12th in the country. The Badgers have struggled with the better teams in the Big Ten, though. Wisconsin has lost to Michigan (2x), Ohio State, Illinois and Iowa. Obviously, those are the some of the best teams in the country, but in major conference games, it seems that Wisconsin hasn’t put up a great fight.
Outside of conference play, Wisconsin has wins over Louisville, Loyola Chicago and Rhode Island. The high point of the Badgers season came when they beat Louisville, 85-48. The Badgers did, however, have a controversial loss to in-state rival Marquette early in the season.
Badgers March Madness Outlook
The Badgers are currently sixth in the Big Ten, with a 10-7 conference record. They finish their regular season with a home game against Illinois and two on the road against Purdue and Iowa. Granted they don’t lose badly to Purdue, it looks like Wisconsin will finish the season in the top-25. With the experience and ability to play well together, the Badgers are a major sleeper in the Big Ten Tournament.
Come tournament time, the Badgers excel in three important aspects. Guard play – D’Mitrik Trice is one of the best point guards in college basketball. Experience – the Badgers sport a roster of six out of eight players who’ve played 22 games being seniors. Free throw shooting – the Badgers shoot 75% from the free throw line, ranking them 50th in the country.
Head coach Greg Gard is coming off being named the 2020 Big Ten Coach of the Year. Gard currently holds a 4-3 record in the tournament, but was an assistant coach on the back-to-back Final Four Badger teams. His experience as the Big Ten Coach of the Year, as well as his experience under legendary coach Bo Ryan, has proved to be beneficial, as Wisconsin has been one of the better programs in recent memory.
Look for the Badgers to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament, opening many people’s eyes. This senior-led team is absolutely a team that could be alive on the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
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