Wisconsin basketball will open their season against the Eastern Illinois Panthers Wednesday night.
The Wisconsin basketball team will make their debut this week when they host the Eastern Illinois Panthers of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Badgers will look to start their season out with a win against a non-conference opponent. The game will be on BTN at 9:00 PM Wednesday night.
The Badgers are coming off of a successful 2019-2020 season. They won eight straight games to tie for the regular-season Big Ten Championship and earned the number one seed in the Big Ten Tournament before it was canceled due to the covid pandemic that wiped out the entire college basketball post-season.
They have six seniors who have played meaningful minutes returning. Trice and Davison will lead from the backcourt while Ford, Potter, and Reuvers will man the frontcourt. Anderson will be a key reserve off the bench. Sophomore Tyler Wahl, who was essentially the sixth-man for the Wisconsin basketball team last year, will also be playing some important minutes for the Badgers this season.
The Badgers also have some freshmen who will likely be contributing this season. Johnny Davis, Ben Carlson, and Steven Crowl will be seeing some playing time this year. So while this is a veteran team, there will also be an injection of youth in the program.
Expectations for this Wisconsin basketball team are high. They have started the season ranked seventh in both the AP Preseason Poll and Coaches Poll. They were also picked to finish third in the very competitive Big Ten behind Illinois and Iowa by Big Ten reporters.
According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology projections, the Badgers are a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Eastern Illinois preview
Last season, the Panthers had a 17-15 record and finished 5th in the Ohio Valley Conference. Like the Badgers, they have several players returning for their senior season. In fact, their top seven scorers from a year ago are all back.
They are led offensive by a trio of guards. Josiah Wallace (15.6 ppg), Mack Smith (13.4 ppg), and George Dixon (11.0 ppg) are all returning as the Panthers’ top scoring threats. They are the only three players on the team who scored in double-digits.
Something Eastern Illinois doesn’t really have is size. They have five players that transferred in, and three are the tallest players on their team. The tallest player on their roster is sophomore Madani Diarra. He is 6-10 and played in just four games last year and averaged 2.5 minutes in those games. Senior forward Sammy Friday and junior Barlow Alleruzzo are both 6-9.
This is an area where Wisconsin will have a significant advantage. Wisconsin has four players who are 6-10 or taller, including starters Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter. The Badgers should bully the Panthers in the paint in both scoring and in rebounds.
This should be a good game for the Badgers to get started with, but they also need to avoid looking past their opponent, or we might have another Western Illinois upset at the Kohl Center.
I think this game should be a game where we see the starters come out and get up big early. We should also see some of the young players get a healthy dose of playing time. I think the Badgers jump up quickly and never look back and cruise to a convincing win.
Wisconsin 80 – Eastern Illinois 61