2011-2012 Wisconsin Basketball: Bo Ryan leads Wisconsin into the upcoming season with high expectations.
After last year's improbable come from behind victory against Ohio State, Jordan Taylor and the Badgers seemed like legitimate national title contenders. Remarkably overcoming a deficit of 15 in the second half, Wisconsin would pull off their first victory against a top-ranked opponent since 1962.
While teaming up with dominant big man Jon Leuer, Taylor would eventually lead Wisconsin to the Sweet 16, where the Badgers would eventually meet their demise against Butler. That chapter in Wisconsin basketball history has turned, and this year's squad looks to be primed to make another impressive run in this year's NCAA basketball tournament.
In order for this year's squad to be successful, Jon Leuer needs to be replaced—not a simple task—and Jordan Taylor needs be play to the caliber that he is more than capable of.
Here we look at five predictions for the upcoming Wisconsin Basketball season...
Last year, Mike Bruesewitz didn't have flashy numbers, in fact, he only averaged 4.2 points, and 2.8 rebounds per game. What stood out about Bruesewtiz, besides his luscious red locks, was the grit and desire he poured out on the court every single night.
This season, the 6'6'' forward out of St. Paul, Minnesota is going to need to pick up the slack, left behind with the departure of Jon Leuer to the NBA.
Bruesewitz is poised to have a breakout season, averaging close to a double-double on the year. If he can get close to 10 points, and 10 rebounds a game, the Badgers look more than likely to contend for the Big Ten Championship, and perhaps even an appearance in the Final Four come March.
In his first two seasons at Wisconsin, Ryan Evans has struggled greatly, averaging around three points, and about two rebounds a game. This season looks to be different, however, as the veteran guard/forward looks to burst onto the national scene.
Evans has surely heard the criticisms around campus, especially regarding his lack of ability to shoot. This will change this season, as his mid-range jumper will fall in the first few games, and come Big Ten play, his confidence will be at an all time high.
If Evans can average around seven points and seven rebounds a game, the Badgers will get the production they have been counting from him for years.
Jordan Taylor needs a solid partner in the backcourt to take off some of the pressure he will be dealing with this year, and Evans looks to be that guy—and maybe even more.
On November 30th, Wisconsin travels to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to face off against UNC in one of the most anticipated early games of the year.
This will be a huge test for the Badgers, as pre-season No. 1 North Carolina is absolutely stacked this season. Led by sensational sophomore Harrison Barnes, the Tar Heels look to be legitimate national title contenders.
The national media will be focused on the performances of pre-season All-Americans Harrison Barnes and Jordan Taylor, however, defense will be the key to this game.
America will be in for a surprise when Jordan Taylor and company travel to the Dean Smith Center and grind out an extremely impressive victory in late November. Wisconsin was able to stun another ACC power, Duke, in 2009, but this time around, the nation will be shocked when the Badgers stingy defense locks down the nation's top program in North Carolina.
Year in and year out, the Big Ten is one of America's top conferences in basketball. Perennial powers Ohio State and Michigan State always seem to be the cream of the crop, but this year, Wisconsin looks to be a genuine threat.
The Badgers are just behind Ohio State in the pre-season Big Ten predictions, and if all the right pieces fall into place, Wisconsin has a decent chance at bringing home the hardware in Indianapolis.
If Jordan Taylor can play up to his All-American expectations, if Jon Leuer's poise and demeanor can be replaced on the court, and if Bo Ryan can coach the defense as we know he is more than capable of, the Badgers will be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten.
Last year, Jordan Taylor was inexcusably snubbed in nominations for the Bob Cousy Award—given to the nation's top point guard.
How did Taylor respond to being omitted from one of the most prestigious awards in college basketball? No, he didn't lash out at the national media, he simply led Wisconsin to an upset victory over previously unbeaten Ohio State in front of a hostile crowd in Madison.
A year removed from averaging 18 points, and nearly five assists per game, Taylor—a pre-season All-American—looks to make be one of, if not the, best point guards in the nation.
Of course, being a Wisconsin Badger, Taylor could care less about being an All-American. Whether he could care about such an award or not, his unmatched skill and calm demeanor on the court have the potential for him to receive this honor at season's end.