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10 Predictions for the Wisconsin Basketball Season

Wisconsin Basketball is starting on Friday. Here are 10 predictions to get you ready for the season.

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1. Kobe King will be Wisconsin’s second leading scorer

Even though King may not start a game for the Badgers this season, he is the most offensively gifted guard on the roster. He can score in so many different ways that it makes him nearly impossible to defend. He can drive, shoot three-pointers, post-up, and attack in transition. Oh, and then there is his prolific mid-range game, which will give hoops fans flashbacks to the second best Kobe basketball player of all time. We’ve seen him put up points in Australia and all the scrimmages. Now, it is time for him to show the college basketball world what he can do.

2. Ethan Happ will lead the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks

Last season, Happ led the the Badgers in all of those categories except for points, which Bronson Koenig took by just .5 points per game. Now, he will almost certainly be the leading scorer. He has also shown improved passing out of double teams, which should lead to even more assists. The only real questionable one is blocks, which Khalil Iverson has a chance to take now that he is a full-time starter. But a stat-line of 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2 steals, and a block is very doable for the All-American Happ.

3. Wisconsin finishes their brutal non-conference schedule 9-3

Wisconsin’s non-conference schedule is loaded this season. They face No.17 Xavier at home, Virginia and Temple on the road, top mid-majors Yale and Western Kentucky, in-state rival Marquette, and a Hall of Fame Classic Field featuring No. 24 Baylor, No. 21 UCLA, and Creighton. Every single one of those game is very losable. However, every single one of those games is also very winnable. While the Badgers play a lot of tough teams, none of them can really be considered elite. That is ideal, because they should have a chance to rack up a ton of quality, top-50 level wins before January.

4.Wisconsin will not finish fourth or better in the Big Ten

I know. I know. But all good things have to come to an end at some point, right? As much as we all fooled ourselves into thinking otherwise, we all knew that the streak couldn’t possibly last forever. With how much Wisconsin is losing combined with how good the Big Ten is this season, it seems like the perfect storm that will finally end one of the most impressive streaks in college basketball. I think Wisconsin will be a good team. But the top four teams in the Big Ten- Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern, and Minnesota- look like they are on another level. The Badgers could potentially play their way into a tie for fourth like they did in 2015-16, but gun to my head, I say they finish fifth.

5. Khalil Iverson is going to have a breakout season

Iverson is an athletic freak of nature. He has ridiculous strength and hops, along with an uncanny ability to always be around the ball. But up until this point, he hasn’t been able to produce much on offense. This season, that will change. His shot looks a lot better than it did last season. It is softer and has a lot more arc. With improved outside shooting, the rest of his game will open up too. Last season, in games where Iverson played 20 minutes, he averaged eight points. Now, he’ll play more than 20 minutes per game every game, with an improved offensive arsenal. He can easily be a double-digit scorer for the Badgers.

6. Alex Illikainen will completely fall out of the regular rotation

Illikainen has really struggled in his Badger career so far. The former four-star recruit came to Wisconsin with comparisons to Jon Leuer, but his confidence is just not there. He is hesitant to shoot, which leads to a lot of misses and turnovers. Even in preseason games against lesser competition, he hasn’t looked good. At this point, it is clear that Andy Van Vliet and Charles Thomas are ahead of him. I also think that Aleem Ford will pass him at some point too. By season’s end, Illikainen may be reserved for mop-up duty.

7. Announcers will remind us every game that Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice were high school quarterbacks

In 2013-2014, announcers loved to tell us that Frank Kaminsky only averaged 4.2 points per game his sophomore season. The next season, they told us all about how Nigel Hayes hadn’t attempted a single three-pointer as a freshman. The last two seasons, it was “Did you know Ethan Happ played against Frank Kaminsky in practice as a redshirt freshman?” Now what will the annoying anecdote that announcers repeat every single game be? My best guess is that they won’t stop reminding us that Davison and Trice were high school quarterbacks. But who knows? Maybe they’ll make it a third straight season of talking about Happ guarding Frank in practice.

8. Wisconsin will receive a better NCAA Tournament seed than last year

Despite the fact that they’ll likely finish with a worse conference standing than last season, I think Wisconsin’s Big Dance seed will improve. As stupid as it was, Wisconsin was hurt by their lack of quality wins last season. The Big Ten was down, and their non-conference schedule turned out to be pretty lackluster. This season, Wisconsin should be able to rack up a bunch of quality wins, both in non-conference and conference play.

9. Wisconsin will finish their end of season stretch of four ranked teams 3-1

The last four games on Wisconsin’s schedule are vs No. 20 Purdue, vs No. 15 Minnesota, at No. 19 Northwestern, and vs No. 2 Michigan State. That is a brutal way to end the regular season. But luckily, Wisconsin will be playing their best basketball at the point. The sky’s the limit for this Badgers team. There is a ton of young talent surrounding one of the best players in America. With 25 games under their belt, Wisconsin should be able to compete with any team in the country. I think they’ll go 3-1 in those games, giving them the momentum to make runs in both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.

10. We are going to have a lot of fun watching this team

Yes, it is going to be really weird watching Wisconsin Basketball without Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, and Zak Showalter. Those three guys are going to go down in Wisconsin Basketball history, especially the former two. But there is something exciting about all of the new faces and names. The possibilities are endless. This team is going to be a really good shooting team, with guys like Pritzl, Trice, Davison, King and Van Vliet all deadly from beyond the arc. Happ is one of the most fun players to watch in the country, with his crazy footwork. And now he can apparently shoot three pointers too?

Add in Khalil Iverson monster dunks and Brad Davison driving opposing fan bases nuts and this should be a super fun team to watch. There is a lot of talent on this roster, and watching them develop and grow over the course of the year will be very interesting. Sure, they will probably lose some games they shouldn’t. But they’ll also win some they shouldn’t. It’s going to be an exciting season, and I can’t wait to watch them play.

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Badgers Basketball

Full Badgers 2018-19 basketball schedule revealed

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The moment every Wisconsin Badgers basketball fan was waiting for finally arrived on Tuesday afternoon. In a special on BTN, all schedules were released for conference games. 

For the first time ever there will be 20 conference games played, with the Badgers kicking off the B1G schedule on November 30 by taking a trip to Iowa City to face the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Wisconsin will play a second Big Ten game that week, hosting Rutgers on Dec. 3. 

The overall schedule kicks off with the Badgers hosting Coppin State on Nov. 6 at the Kohl Center. 

Highlighting UW’s non-conference schedule are matchups against fellow Power 5 opponents like NC State, Xavier and Stanford (part of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament). Those were all matchups already known though. 

In between the Xavier matchup and UW’s trip to the Bahamas is a visit from Houston Baptist on Nov. 17. 

With the release of the schedule, UW will also see its annual rivalry with Marquette (Dec. 8) renewed.

As of now, there is one open date on the Badgers schedule for Dec. 13th and there has yet to be either Green Bay or Milwaukee on the schedule this season. 

It would be the first time in a very long time that neither of the other two in-state schools meet the Badgers in a regular season matchup. 

The non-conference slate will end on Dec. 29 with Western Kentucky coming to Madison.

Once the usual non-conference slate is finished, the Badgers have a pretty even ride through Big Ten play in January. 

There are challenging sections to the schedule, including a three-game swing in mid-January that will see UW play host to Purdue, travel to Maryland and then return home to play Michigan. 

However, February heats up with the Badgers having to face Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State amongst the final 10 games of the conference slate. 

The season will wrap up with UW taking on Ohio State in Columbus on March 10. 

Here’s a look at the full schedule for the Badgers:

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers land 2019 4-star SF Tyler Wahl

Badgers get 1st player in to the 2019 class and it’s a 4-star forward from Minnesota…sound familiar?

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The long-awaited first commitment of the 2019 class for Wisconsin Badgers basketball has happened.

On Thursday, 4-star 6-7, 200-pound small forward Tyler Wahl announced his verbal pledge to the Badgers.

The Lakeville (Minn.) North star visited UW unofficially on Thursday, following attendance at camps over the past week as well. Following that visit, Wahl decided it was time to wrap up his recruitment.

Wisconsin won out over offers from the likes of Butler, Iowa State, Minnesota and Northwestern and is getting the No. 125 ranked player in the country and No. 25 ranked power forward according to the 247Sports rankings.

It probably didn’t hurt UW in his recruitment to see what former high school teammate Nathan Reuvers did in his first season as a Badger. After playing sparingly early on, Reuvers became an important cog in the Badgers machine this past season.

According to Badger247, Reuvers had some advice for his former teammate if he wanted to be a Badger.

“Our relationship is really good,” said Wahl. “I talk to him at least once a week. He’s told me that they really like me. I just had to get my shot down and keep playing well.”

This past season, Wahl averaged 17.2 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game for his high school team. Lakeville North also went 22-4 and made the Minnesota state tournament.

What should be interesting is how Wahl’s decision impacts one of UW’s oldest targets in the 2019 recruiting class — Zeke Nnaji. The Badgers have been on Nnaji from the beginning, but the fellow 4-star recruit has seen his offer list blow up in the past few months.

The two are AAU teammates, and while that can be a factor, it may not be the deciding factor in Nnaji’s choice of schools in the coming months.

As for Wahl, he’s seen his shot come a long way and has shown some good defensive work during his recruitment. He screams classic Badgers forward, willing to do the little things on defense to help make the offensive side of the ball that much easier.

UW ranks No. 22 in the country with Wahl’s commitment and could reach even higher depending on what happens with Nnaji’s recruitment and the scholarships they decide to use or bank towards 2020.

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Badgers Basketball

DJ Carton surprises most, leaves Badgers off his final 6

Badgers were 1st to offer for 4-star PG, but were stunningly left off his final 6 list. Where do the Badgers go from here?

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The Wisconsin Badgers saw what no team in college basketball did in point guard D.J. Carton back in 2017. They were the first to offer the budding recruit and were after him hard, but in the end it didn’t apparently matter.

On Friday, Carton announced his list of final six schools via his Twitter account:

Missing from that list were the Badgers, a move that surprised many. Instead, it was Indiana, Iowa, Marquette, Michigan, Ohio State and Xavier that made the cut.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort on the Badgers part to say the least. Wisconsin put the full-court press on him early and often, sending Greg Gard and others to just about every AAU game and got an in-home visit with him in recent months.

So, why didn’t the first high-major team to offer make the list?

It could have had something to do with UW taking 2018 point guard Tai Strickland and thus having a pretty loaded backcourt for the foreseeable future. Strickland was added to the mix late in the 2018 recruiting process due to his skill set, but also because there was clearly a lack of depth in the Badgers backcourt.

That’s not to say Carton wouldn’t have been in the mix, but as a 4-star player he also was going to get opportunities to not have to compete so hard for immediate playing time.

Not seeing Carton in the top six is a bit stunning, given what UW has put in to his recruitment from the get-go. But, unlike years past, the Badgers are not a team stuck without options. The signing of Strickland helped them avoid a crushing blow like going all-in on Carton and not actually landing him at all.

UW also has been heavily looking towards the 2020 class, where there are a number of quality backcourt options out there. One name that UW has been heavily linked with in that class is point guard Reece Beekman out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His grandparents went to Wisconsin and he is a big-time academic person along with a quality point guard in his class.

So, while it may sting to see a guy that UW put so much effort in to not include them in the final mix, this isn’t a situation like missing out on Diamond Stone or Kevon Looney — guys that the Badgers were heavily all-in on and ultimately had to scramble to replace.

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Badgers Basketball

Nigel Hayes pushes for boycott for pay while revealing Badgers nearly did it in 2016

Hayes hopes to spark major change in college athlete pay, while also pushing for a boycott that nearly happened at UW in 2016.

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Nigel Hayes has been an outspoken advocate for the movement to get players in the NCAA to get paid. He’s even still named as a plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit against the NCAA.

On Tuesday, Hayes, who is currently playing for the Sacramento Kings, was part of a panel titled “Future of College Sports: Reimagining Athlete Pay.” It was a panel to help facilitate a discussion around athlete’s pay in college sports.

But, it wasn’t what Hayes had to say around that part of the topic that caught the eye of many. Instead, it was what he revealed about the 2016-17 Wisconsin Badgers that made people take notice. Hayes revealed that he spearheaded a potential move to boycott a high-profile game early in the season.

That game was the matchup with a then-ranked Syracuse Orange team as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

According to Hayes, the idea was proposed by him in a group chat and that the majority of the team was in favor of the bold move. However, Hayes indicated that everyone had to be on board for such a move to happen.

“I knew 90 percent of the guys were on board from the get-go, before I asked the question,” Hayes told USA TODAY Sports after the panel discussion. “But I let them know that if one of you guys says no, we won’t do it because, obviously, we’re a team and we’re going to stick together.

Obviously that didn’t happen and the Badgers went on to win the game 77-60 in front of a packed home crowd at the Kohl Center.

It certainly would’ve been a huge headline-grabber, and Hayes believes that hindsight for those teammates who voted no would change their minds.

“In hindsight, I think those guys that said no would change their mind now. That’s usually what happens. The guys who don’t go on to the NBA, once they leave college, they look back and say, ‘Wow, I was exploited — and now I have nothing to show for it.’ … So, I think we missed our opportunity, but hopefully this word gets out and it will inspire a group of kids that in college now or will be in college.”

Is that really what those former teammates believe, or is Hayes just speaking for them in a way that helps his cause? What we don’t and likely will never know is just how many of his teammates really were against the move and just what those players believe about their college experiences.

Clearly that is a call by Hayes for someone to take up the cause he championed time and again while he was in college. Will someone do it and will it spark the change that Haye believes in?

“With all the money that’s being made that the players are not receiving, there’s going to be a point where the players don’t play,” he said. “It’s going to take the right player or the right team in the right big-game setting … but if you want to get something done, boycott it. That’s the best way to get anything done. … I think it’s something that if we did go through with it, we’d probably be having a very different conversation right now.”

Those are bold statements and there certainly are huge risks involved. College athletics is clearly at a cross-roads and what happens in the next few years may go a long way towards determining its future. Part of that future appears in the hands of the NBA and what it does with expanding the G-League opportunities to younger players and what it does with the path to the draft as well.

What Hayes revealed in this interview is that he clearly has an agenda and isn’t afraid to push people in today’s college game to do what he advocates for.

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