The Wisconsin basketball team is going to go through a transition this season, there’s no arguing that. The 2020-21 team was an experienced, senior-laden team. The 2021-22 team will look a lot different. There will be just three players coming back who played meaningful minutes last season: Brad Davison (yes, he’s still here), Tyler Wahl, and Jonathan Davis. Outside of that, it is going to be transfers and freshmen who will be getting some playing time.
With a team so full of youth and general inexperience with the program, there are bound to be some learning curves.
But despite the big changes, there are some out there who still think this will be a relatively good team–maybe even an NCAA Tournament team.
Matt Norlander, of CBS Sports, ranked all 358 NCAA basketball teams as a countdown to the 2021 basketball season. The Wisconsin basketball team ended up ranked the 53rd overall team, according to Norlander.
Even with the departure of Revuers, Potter, Trice, Ford, and more, with the offseason drama surrounding this team, and a new assistant coach, Norlander still points to Jonathan Davis and Greg Gard as reasons to believe the Badgers could still be tournament-bound this season.
It’s been a bumpy offseason for Wisconsin. Former assistant (and former really good player) Alando Tucker left the program after good local reporting revealed some (not all that unusual) internal strife with some players and coach Greg Gard. This looks like a transition season (five frosh, three transfers), but a reminder to the skeptics (uh, that now includes me? How did I get here) that Bucky’s had an NCAA Tournament team in five of Gard’s six seasons. Brad Davison’s something of an enemy in the Big Ten, but although he’s the most well known player, Jonathan Davis is Wisconsin’s best. Chucky Hepburn is the future. The freshman point guard is likely to start from the get-go.
According to this list, the Badgers are the 9th-highest Big Ten team. Ahead of them are Rutgers (39), Michigan St. (34), Indiana (23), Maryland (22), Ohio St. (18), Illinois (7), Michigan (5), and Purdue (2).
It may get a little bumpy this year for Wisconsin basketball fans, but Norlander points out some positives. The Badgers have Davis, who could be one of the best in the Big Ten, especially after his experience playing for the national team over the summer. There are also high hopes for Chucky Hepburn, who has some high expectations in Madison.
This may not be the most experienced team, but maybe this team needed a fresh start, a new identity.