On November 12th, the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team will take on Northern Kentucky, signifying the start of the most anticipated Badger hoops season ever. They are ranked 3rd in the AP Poll and 4th in the Coaches poll, and are a projected #1 seed by a variety of sources. Their players are also garnering national respect, as Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky were ranked as the 6th and 1st best players in the country respectively, by ESPN. Here is how the Badger of Honor staff thinks Bo Ryan’s team will perform this season.
Who will be the Badger’s Leading Scorer?
Jim Oxley: Leading the Badgers in scoring this year will be Frank Kaminsky- no surprise here. A season he scored 13.6 points per game, and while teams will be keying on him, he’s too versatile a player to be shut down on a regular basis.
Apr 5, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) shoots the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the semifinals of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Mens Division I Championship tournament at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Rayan Vatti: In my Stat Projection article, I predicted that Frank Kaminsky (bold, right?) would be the team’s leading scorer with 17 points a game. Sam Dekker will be close, especially now that he’s playing small forward. However, down the stretch of close games, the Badgers will force feed Kaminsky the ball in the post.
Taylor Johnson: Sam Dekker. I know many will think Frank Kaminsky will lead the team in scoring. He’ll put up good numbers, but I think this is Dekker’s year and his time to shine.
Zach Rastall: Frank Kaminsky.
What place will they finish in the Big 10?
JO: In the Big 10- again no surprises here- Wisconsin comes in at the top. They took second a year ago by three games, but I expect them to be the conference’s premier team this year.
RV: This one is too easy. Wisconsin wins by a landslide. I think the next closest team will be at least 3-4 games back of the Badgers.
TJ: I’ll get this one out of the way. Wisconsin wins the Big Ten. Moving on.
What will be their record?
JO: I don’t see Wisconsin losing six Big 10 games again this year, although the Badgers will be tested on the road- traveling to Michigan and Nebraska and closing out the season on the road against Ohio State. The non-conference slate has its own roadblocks, notably number 4 Duke in the ACC/Big 10 challenge, and traveling to both Marquette and California.
Still, I expect the Badgers to improve both their record and conference position this season. Following a 25-6 regular season record a year ago, (12-6 Big 10), I predict the Badgers will win one more game and finish 26-5.
RV: This year, the Badger’s have a very tough schedule. However, they have the talent to handle it. In front of a huge home crowd at the Kohl Center, I think they will be able to beat #4 Duke. I think they will also overmatch California, Marquette, Florida, and Boise State to boost their non-conference RPI. However, UNC may be a tough matchup and a close loss for them in the Battle 4 Atlantis Final. They might also lose to Iowa, @Nebraska, and @Ohio State to finish with a 27-4 record. That should be good enough for a #1 seed.
TJ: 26-5. There are going to be a few games where the Badgers stumble in the Big 10. It’s one of the toughest conferences in basketball and impossible to go undefeated in. The non-conference schedule will also be tough, especially with Duke coming to Madison. I like the Badgers chances in the Kohl Center, but would not be surprised to see Duke come in and steal one.
ZR: The preseason hype surrounding this team is unlike anything we’ve seen in the Bo Ryan era, but this is arguably his most talented team. The non-conference schedule will give Wisconsin some tough tests early on, including a game against Duke and the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. However, I think they’ll finish 27-4.
How far will they advance in the NCAA Tournament?
JO: Following the team’s first Final Four since 2000 and only its third trip in school history, the Badgers, only losing Ben Brust from the rotation, have a chance to get back to the pinnacle of college basketball.
Tournament play is fickle, and as UCONN showed last year, all it takes is for a team to get on a roll to win the entire thing. Still, I’ll pick Wisconsin to make a trip back to the Final Four. The experience returning from last year’s team has the Badgers rightfully placed in the conversation as one of the top teams in the country.
Mar 29, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bo Ryan celebrates by cutting the net after overtime in the finals of the west regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament against the Arizona Wildcats at Honda Center. The Badgers defeated the Wildcats 64-63. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
RV: March Madness is unpredictable. A lot of the time, it’s more about being lucky and hot than being the best team in the country. Ex. UConn. However, I think Wisconsin is a top two team in the country, and they will get a rematch with Kentucky in the Final 4. This time, they will win. Yes, I’m predicting the Badgers as the 2015 National Champions.
TJ: The big one, how far does Wisconsin go in the tournament? I’ve said this all off-season; they make it to the Final Four. Not ready to say championship or anything, but I’m saying a Final Four trip is in store for Bucky.
ZR: National Champions. Led by Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky, this team has a ridiculous amount of depth. While the beauty of March Madness is that it’s unpredictable, this is the year to pick Wisconsin.