After a 2019-20 season that was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team is poised to build off a successful 2019 campaign and repeat as Big Ten champions in 2020-21.
The Badgers finished the season riding the high of an eight-game winning streak, earning a share of the Big Ten title and the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which was ultimately canceled.
This late-season emergence by the Badgers combined with their returning roster has led to high expectations for the upcoming season.
The Badgers and Head Coach Greg Gard return five senior starters — D’Mitrik Trice, Aleem Ford, Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter and Brad Davison. These five are set to provide key production for the Badgers.
The season turned after Potter was granted eligibility in December. Over the rest of the season, Potter provided the team with rebounding and big-time 3-point shot ability, while creating quite the combo with Reuvers down low.
The Badgers were 16-5 with Potter in the lineup and his emergence is one of the reasons why Badger fans are optimistic for the upcoming season.
Reuvers was the leading scorer for the Badgers last year, averaging 13.1 points per game. Reuvers is a reliable scorer in the low post and can stretch defenses from the outside.
Last season, Reuvers shot over 33% from beyond the arc. Reuvers and Potter will be a lot to handle for opponents inside the paint next season, leading to opportunities for their perimeter teammates. Trice and Davison have both proven their ability to hit clutch 3-pointers, and even Ford shot 34% from deep last season.
The experience and unselfishness of the Badgers will make them difficult to defend, as any of the five starters could be the leading scorer on any given night.
Trice and Davison have loads of experience playing in the backcourt, and neither one will shy away from having the ball in their hands late in the game.
Having two senior ball handlers who have been playing in big moments since their freshman year cannot be understated in college basketball. Trice and Davison will control the tempo for the Badgers and much of the team’s success depends on their play.
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Another senior to watch is backup point guard Trevor Anderson. Anderson, the gritty guard from Stevens Point, appeared in 31 games last season and averaged 11 minutes per game.
By having an experienced guard on the bench, the Badgers will have the flexibility to give lead guards like Davison and Trice rest so they can stay fresh in crunch-time situations.
The Big Ten will be competitive as usual, and even more loaded at the top of the conference than in previous years. Iowa and Illinois are expected to be top-10 caliber teams along with the Badgers, and Michigan State is always a legitimate threat with Head Coach Tom Izzo at the helm.
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Luka Garza of Iowa is one of the favorites for National Player of the Year, and will be a problem for his opponents in the low post this season. Reuvers and Potter on the court at the same time is as tough a matchup as Garza will face all year.
When matching up with other teams in the Big Ten, the Badgers will benefit from their balanced brand of basketball. The experience on the court at all times leads to unselfish basketball where the top priority is finding the best shot possible.
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The amount of close games that this senior core has gone through together will prove to be vital in the ultra-competitive Big Ten this upcoming season.
In what will be a different but highly competitive 2020-21 season, the Badgers must use their experience to their advantage. The unselfish and balanced attack that this core has developed over time sets them apart from their competitors in the Big Ten.
Expectations are set high for the Badgers, and their experience and senior leadership are the reason for that.