10 Burning Questions About Wisconsin Basketball

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Mar 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Bronson Koenig (24) dribbles the ball against Michigan State Spartans guard Travis Trice (20) during the first half in the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of the two most successful seasons in modern Wisconsin Basketball history, this year will be quite different. There are questions. Lots of them. Last year, there was one new freshman, and he redshirted. This year, there are 5. Last year, we knew how good they were going to be, and the Badgers were universally projected to win the Big 10. Now, it is hard to find a college basketball analyst that will put them in the top 4 of the Big 10.

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To put it simply, there are a lot of questions about this team that need to be answered. Which freshmen will step up? Who will replace the scoring of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, and the defense of Josh Gasser? Which player could breakout? Here are the 10 burning questions that all Wisconsin Basketball fans are wondering.

Which freshmen will step up?

Bo Ryan has never liked to play freshmen. But Wisconsin basketball added 5 extremely talented newbies to the roster this year. In fact, this may be the most exciting recruiting class Bo Ryan has ever mustered. While no freshmen are currently projected to start, a few are going to get major minutes.

Unfortunately, the class already has two casualties. Brevin Pritzl, the highest ranked member of the class, suffered a broken foot earlier this fall. Due to all the missed practices, he will most likely have to redshirt. Andy van Vliet, a 6 foot 11 sharpshooter, aptly named the “Belgian Kaminsky,” was recently declared ineligible by the NCAA, which is the same organization that has given no punishment to a team that created fakes classes so their players could stay eligible. Wisconsin is appealing the decision, and if they win, van Vliet has a chance to crack the rotation.

Right now, it looks like PF/C Charlie Thomas is all but guaranteed to play. Despite being the lowest ranked member of the class, Thomas is big, physical, and skilled enough to push starter Vitto Brown for minutes. Next in line is athletic specimen Khalil Iverson, who defends, makes hustle plays, and makes highlight reel plays look easy. He will probably play a lot early in the year. In fact, Thomas and Iverson are the projected first two players off the bench. They have a chance to contribute big early, like Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker did in their freshmen years.

The biggest question mark is PF Alex Illikainen, who is a good rebounder and can score from inside and out. After Charlie Thomas, there are no other big men trustworthy of playing valuable minutes. Small Forward Nigel Hayes can always slide over to power forward if the Badgers get into foul trouble. But if Bo wants to have an extra body coming off the bench just in case, Illikainen will also play. The Badgers could use his scoring and shooting off the bench.

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