Johnny Davis and the Wisconsin basketball team shocked the Big Ten world last night by going into Mackey Arena, where the Badgers have struggled mightily and pulled out a win over the #3 Boilermakers last night.
The 11-2 Wisconsin basketball team has been a pleasant surprise for Wisconsin fans this year. With such a young group of players, nobody expected them to be as competitive as they have been. They’ve won the Maui Jim Invitational Tournament in November and now defeated a top-3 team in the country. Their only two losses came at the hands of a good Providence when they didn’t have Johnny Davis and on the road against Ohio State, who was coming off a huge win over #1 Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and is now ranked 13th in the country.
This Wisconsin basketball team has shown they are ready to compete right now and that’s mostly thanks to their star forward, Johnny Davis.
Davis is the first Badger to average 20+ points since Michael Finley in the early ’90s. Even Frank Kaminsky didn’t do that in 2014-15 when he won the Naismith Award as college basketball’s top player.
He has single-handedly kept Wisconsin in games when they have struggled to score, including last night when the Badgers took down Purdue. Davis dropped a career-high 37 points on the Boilermakers and added 14 rebounds and three assists.
Wisconsin hasn’t had a player that can score as Davis can in a long time. This can be both a good and a bad thing. It’s obviously beneficial when he can go off and drop 30+ points on an opponent like Purdue. But when he is having an off night or when teams are doubling him, that forces someone else to step up, which isn’t something we’ve seen a whole lot of this year. Brad Davison has been a good number two, but we all know he can be a very streaky shooter. What Wisconsin needs is that third option that can be a threat to score and so far this year, they don’t have that player.
So while the Badgers are certainly performing better than expected, they will also only go as far as Johnny Davis will be able to take them. If he plays as he did against Purdue, that will certainly be in the NCAA Tournament and possibly even a deep run. But if they truly want to be contenders, he’s going to need some help.