In anticipation of the upcoming Wisconsin men’s basketball season, I have been doing some thinking and now have some predictions ready. Here are four hot takes, fresh out of the oven, for your reading pleasure.
Brad Davison makes an All-Big Ten team
It has been very uncommon in recent University of Wisconsin basketball history to receive any sort of significant playing time as a freshman, but guard Brad Davison was a major exception to this last season. Davison led the team with 31.2 minutes per game and thrived during that on-court experience. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, in addition to 1.5 steals and shooting 35 percent on threes. This is one of the most successful freshman seasons in the history of the program, and Davison will be looking to build off of it.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Davison’s freshman season is that he managed to do all of these things despite a dislocating his shoulder in November. He supposedly re-injured it several times through the year, yet never missed a single game. Once again, Davison played more minutes than anybody on the Badgers. His shoulder could have popped out at any given moment, but Davison persevered and gave it his all every night. He finally got surgery after the season and will be healthy for the first time in his college career.
It’s crazy to think about what Davison could be capable of now that he is finally healthy. He will have some tough competition from guards Carsen Edwards, Cassius Winston and Charles Matthews, but Davison has proven himself to be one of the toughest competitors in the conference and I expect him to rise to the top of the Big Ten this season.
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Badgers finish in the top half of the conference
After an impressive run of sixteen straight top-four finishes in the Big Ten, Wisconsin’s remarkable consistency came to an end last season when they finished ninth out of twelve teams in the conference. An unfortunate combination of graduation and injuries proved to be too much for even one of the country’s most consistent programs to overcome though.
Kobe King and D’Mitrik Trice will be returning to the Badgers and will be providing some much-needed scoring and depth not present last season. The Badgers only had two players average more than ten points per game last season, and their third-leading scorer, Trice, went down for the season after 10 games. King was expected to offer some much-needed scoring off the bench, but did not have much of a chance to prove himself because he also went down after 10 games.
With the help of King, Trice, a healthy Davison and more, expect the Badgers to put last season’s disappointment behind them and finish in the top half of the conference, where they belong. In Ethan Happy, who again finished as a unanimous selection for the preseason All-Big Ten team, they have one of the top players in the conference. With a strong inside presence in Happ surrounded by outside shooters such as Trice and King, the offense should be fine with Davison — now a proven point guard — holding the reins.
If the Wisconsin defense can return to its old form, this team should be able to compete with anyone on any given night. After a rough start to Big Ten play last season, Wisconsin was able to give No. 2 Michigan State a run for their money twice at the end of last season. I expect to see that kind of high level play at a much earlier point in the season this year.
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D’Mitrik Trice leads the Big Ten in three-point shooting percentage
Trice shot a remarkable 41.8 percent from downtown in his freshman season on 2.5 attempts per game, and made it clear he is not only the best shooter on the Badgers, but one of the best in the whole conference. This season he will be able to play alongside Davison, who should be able to create many open looks from three for Trice. Trice is only 6-foot and can struggle to create his own shot or shoot over other players, but when given the space, Trice has proven he is as deadly a shooter as they come from outside.
Ethan Happ makes more than one three-pointer
After not attempting a single three in his first two seasons, Happ worked up the courage to shoot up eleven of them last year and even made one of them, shooting nine percent on the season. Though it seems extremely unlikely he will ever prove himself to even be a competent shooter, I am going to boldly predict that he makes not one, but two threes this season. One thing I am sure of is that if/when he makes a three at Kohl Center, it will bring the house down.
Happ, Trice, Davison and the rest of the Badgers will look to validate these predictions Tuesday in their first game versus Coppin State.