Coming off a 24-9 season, 13-5 within the Big Ten, Bo Ryan's group looks ahead to a promising 2010-2011 season.
Losing to Cornell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament wasn't exactly the way the Badgers wanted to go out, but Bo Ryan's group always seems to bounce back the following year.
Looking at Bo Ryan's 26 years as a head coach, including nine seasons at Wisconsin, it's difficult to decide which is more impressive, his incredible longevity or his unparalleled success. However, it is safe to say that the combination of the two is what elevates Ryan among college basketball's elite.
With only six returning starters, only two of which are seniors, the Badgers have the chance to prove a lot of critics wrong this year.
It's clear that the talents of Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon will be dearly missed—as Hughes almost seemed to carry the entire team at times—which begs the question: Who is this year's difference-maker?
As a sixth man last season, G Jon Leuer seems to be a likely candidate. Leuer needs only 245 points this season to join Wisconsin's 1,000-point club, a club that only so many have been able to join.
Leuer averaged 15.4 points per game in 2009-2010, and this season he looks to keep his reign as the Badger's leader in points, rebounds and blocks per game. The high production out of Leuer in 2009-2010 earned him a spot on the John Wooden Preseason Top-50 list, a very prestigious honor for the best collegiate basketball players in the country.
Junior Jordan Taylor also looks to be this year's difference-maker. Last year Taylor led the Big Ten with a three assist-to-turnover ratio, which was also good enough to be third best in the entire country. Taylor also averaged 11.1 points per game in Big Ten play, a time when points become vital.
Senior F Keaton Nankivil is a more-than-capable Badger who will step up this season with the loss of key starters from last season. Nankivil averaged a solid 8.1 points per game, along with the team's most offensive rebounds (68).
Nevertheless, the Badgers have a vast amount of players who are able to step up in place of Trevon Hughes, who was accountable for 15.3 points per game last season—only second to returning Forward Jon Leuer's 15.4.
Wisconsin was plus-3.2 in the turnover margin last season, and plus-10.2 in the scoring margin—something that Bo Ryan's groups of the past have consistently done.
Wisconsin's ability to score early and often will determine the majority of the season. The Badgers outscored their opponents in total points in the first and second halves last season.
At home last season, the Badgers were 16-1, meaning that roughly 95 percent of the time, the Badgers will come away with a victory no matter who they match up against.
Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue are unsurprisingly primed and ready this season. The Spartans, however, return only one starter from last season, giving a prime opportunity for Bucky's crew to make a run at the Big Ten regular-season title.
Ohio State seems to be loading up on freshman, looking at their 2010-2011 roster, and Purdue's loss of SR Robby Hummel will make for a huge conference shakeup.
Purdue G E'Twaun Moore matches up nicely with Badgers G Jordan Taylor; a matchup worth watching when the Badgers and Boilermakers face off February 1st, and February 16th.
The Badgers open the Big Ten regular season against Minnesota on December 28th, and rest assured, the Kohl's Center will be rocking.
Expectations can't be too high for the Badgers this season with the lack of experience at some key positions, but the Badgers always seem to pull off a great season, even when doubted.
Bo Ryan's group will be a fast team with efficient shooting, which will ultimately lead to success down the road.