Bo Ryan's Badgers were again picked in the bottom half of a very stacked Big Ten Conference.
With the graduating senior class including Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon, the backcourt will be young and with little experience with the exception of Jordan Taylor.
Ryan has never had a Badger team that finished in the bottom half of the Big Ten, and don't expect that to change this season. Wisconsin is almost unbeatable at the Kohl Center and is always maddeningly patient at both ends of the court.
PG: Jordan Taylor, 6'1"
Taylor made huge strides as a sophomore, taking over at point guard for Trevon Hughes and having one of the highest assist to turnover ratios (3:1) in basketball. He upped his ppg from 1.6 as a freshman to a solid 10 ppg last season. His jump shot was considerably better, but he was still a set shooter from behind the arc and needed plenty of time.
However, this was a huge step up from his freshman year. Anticipate that same level of growth going into his junior year. Expect Taylor to be second on the team in scoring and try to take some pressure off Jon Leuer.
SG: Hopefully Rob Wilson, 6'3"
As a freshman Wilson looked impressive with a no fear attitude and certainly was not afraid to shoot. But his sophomore season was a complete reversal; he looked slow and tentative all season. I assume this was due to Bo coming down hard on Wilson about fundamentals, and when a player has to concentrate on what foot to use or what defensive position he needs to be in, things usually don't go well.
Ryan is known for his player development. Look for Wilson to start playing carefree and aggressive again this season. It might be a special one for him.
SF: Ryan Evans, 6'6"
Evans was the biggest development project the program has taken on in the last few years, coming in as a freshman with one of the worst-looking jump shots in Division I basketball and completely reliant on athletic ability. As a sophomore he showed glimpses of an all-Big Ten future but was plagued with inconsistency.
Evans led all scorers in the red vs. white scrimmage with 14 (6-of-8) with four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
PF: Jon Leuer, 6'10"
Leuer is the star player of this team and will be the focal point of every team the Badgers play all season. But with Ryan's swing offense being so perfectly spread out, anticipate Leuer to still be a very effective scorer and to see his assist numbers go way up as he passes out of double teams.
C (PF): Keaton Nankivil, 6'8"
Nankivil had a very up and down season as a junior bouncing in and out of Ryan's doghouse with stupid fouls and a lack of aggressiveness. Nankivil is an outside shooter with long arms and a big body. If he can become a post presence and play every game like it's Purdue, he should have a very nice senior season.
Tim Jarmusz, 6'6" (SF)
The fewer minutes Jarmusz gets, the better. Jarmusz has no ability to create his own shot and is a defensive liability. If he's not playing, that means Ryan trusts his freshman guards and will keep double teams off Jon Leuer.
Mike Breusewitz, 6'6" (SF)
Constantly compared to former Badger Joe Krabbenhoft, but the comparison ends after hustling because Breusewitz is Krabbenhoft's superior in athletic ability, shooting and offensive versatility. Breusewitz will have a great career as a Badger and is only a sophomore.
Jared Berggren, 6'10" (C)
Berggren is a typical Ryan big man who can shoot the three and contribute on both ends of the court. He will be the main sub for Leuer and Nankivil this season and if he plays good defense he could steal some minutes from starters.
Wquinton Smith, 5'11" (G)
A walk-on from Milwaukee has always been whispered about among Badger diehard fans. Smith's playing time will be more dependent on how much Ryan trusts the freshman guards than his own ability. Think a better Tanner Bronson but still a walk-on.
Josh Gasser, 6'4" (PG) and Ben Brust, 6'2" (G)
Ryan has always followed a system with multiple freshman guards. The more athletic guard will play more in non-conference games against teams like Duke and UConn. The more controlled guard will play more during conference play against about everyone but Michigan State. If the more athletic and controlled guard happens to be the same person, expect plenty of playing time and possibly a few starts.
Duje Dukan, 6'8" (F)
Dukan is a very skilled forward who can shoot the three and score in various other ways, but without serious injury to upperclassmen Dukan won't play much, but he still won't redshirt.
Evan Anderson, 6'10" (C)
A true center like Greg Stiemsma, but unlike Stiemsma he will probably redshirt.
The Badgers play in the Old Spice Classic, where there is always good competition, and it should provide early tests for the backcourt. Other non-conference games to watch include the ACC-Big Ten challenge game versus NC State and the always highly anticipated in-state rivalry with Marquette.
Then the Badgers will enter arguably the toughest conference in basketball. Always the team to beat, Michigan State is the favorite, but look out of Illinois, Ohio State and possibly Purdue, depending on how the team adjusts without Robbie Hummel.