Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Another season, another year in which Bo Ryan will have his Wisconsin Badgers in the thick of the Big Ten race. Unlike last season when UW relied on their experienced frontcourt, the strength of this season’s team comes with their talented guards.
Last Season: T-4th, 12-6 in Big 10, 23-12 overall
Predicted Big Ten Finish: 4th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Frank Kaminsky (Jr)/Evan Anderson (Jr)
F: Sam Dekker (So)/Zach Bohannon (Sr)/Nigel Hayes (Fr)/Vitto Brown (Fr)/Duje Dukan (Jr)
SG: Ben Brust (Jr)/Riley Dearing (Fr)
G: Josh Gasser (Jr)/Jordan Hill (Fr)
PG: Traevon Jackson (Jr)/George Marshall (So)/Bronson Koenig (Fr)
Gone: C-Jared Berggren, F-Ryan Evans, F-Mike Bruesewitz
The loss of Josh Gasser to a season ending torn ACL was expected to throw a wrench into Wisconsin’s plans last season; but in typical Bo Ryan fashion the Badgers made the most of the talent on their roster. With Gasser back in the lineup, Ryan returns a versatile guard who can do a little bit of everything on the floor including really getting after it on the defensive end. He was a glue guy during his first two seasons in Madison but needs to become more offensive-minded this year.
Wisconsin figures to use a three guard look with Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson flanking Gasser. Brust led the team in scoring last season and does most of his damage behind the arc as he hit 39% of his triple tries a year ago but also rebounds well for his size. Jackson took over the point guard spot when Gasser went down last Fall and was solid but not spectacular. He is a capable game manager and physical defender but doesn’t shoot it that well from the outside.
Ryan should keep a tight four-man rotation at guard with George Marshall being the primary reserve. Marshall is more of an offensive minded point guard but needs to earn Ryan’s trust on the defensive end to warrant more minutes. Zach Showalter was used in spot minutes a year ago but has decided to redshirt this season meaning Riley Dearing and Jordan Hill could see some floor time as freshmen.
With starting forwards Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz moving on, Sam Dekker is expected to be one of the true breakout players of the 2013-14 season. He is a talented, all-around scorer on the offensive end as he can stroke it from deep and brings some explosiveness at the rim off the bounce. With Wisconsin expected to use a smaller line-up, the biggest question is how Dekker survives on the defensive end since he will likely have to guard bigger, stronger guys since he is technically the “power forward” of the starting five.
Continuing in the Badger tradition of big men who can step out and knock down outside shots is Frank Kaminsky. He only played about ten minutes per game last season behind Jared Berggren and isn’t the back-to-the-basket, shot-blocking threat that Berggren brought to the floor. He also needs to be more aggressiveness on the glass.
Frontcourt depth is a serious question mark for Wisconsin since Zach Bohannon and Evan Anderson were seldom used last season and the only returning players. Bohannon is an undersized, energy role player while Anderson is a former top 100 recruit who just hasn’t come close to reaching his potential at Wisconsin. As a result, freshmen Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown are candidates to see minutes right away. Hayes appears to be ready for quality bench minutes due to his physicality down low and ability to step out and knock down mid-range jumpers.
Since Bo Ryan took over as head coach twelve years ago, the Wisconsin Badgers have never finished lower than fourth place in the Big Ten and made the NCAA Tournament every year. Their style of play is far from sexy but perhaps no coach in college basketball gets more out of the talent on his team than Ryan. While there are concerns about the depth up-front, I certainly am not foolish to underestimate Wisconsin as they should certainly be a top four finisher in the conference and a staple among the Top 25.
Player to Watch: Sam Dekker
The home state kid is the most talented wing player to wear a Badgers jersey since Alando Tucker. With the current makeup of this year’s team though, Dekker will have to play out of position defensively which is a concern. However, he will be a nightmare matchup for opposing teams since he is a well-rounded offensive threat. For the record, any NBA Mock Draft that is forecasting Dekker to leave school after this season is foolish. The kid isn’t going anywhere after this year.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/8 vs. St. John’s (in South Dakota)
11/12 vs. Florida
11/16 at Green Bay
11/26 vs. St. Louis (Cancun Challenge)
11/27 vs. West Virginia/Old Dominion (Cancun Challenge)
12/4 at Virginia (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/7 vs. Marquette
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#21 Wichita State
#23 New Mexico
#29 St. John’s
#33 Boise State
#36 St. Louis
#37 La Salle
#38 San Diego State
#40 Arizona State
#44 Iowa State
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks