Believe it or not but the Wisconsin Badgers return to the basketball court tomorrow night. They open up against St. Francis BK. Tip time is 7 PM at the Kohl Center. It will be a season of a bunch of new faces and youth. Here are my predictions for this season.
It Will Be A Season Of Ups and Downs
There will be nights this season where we see the potential of this team in the future. There will also be nights of frustration from Badger fans. My advice is this: be patient with this team. Wisconsin only returns three players who played significant minutes last season. Those players are Brad Davison, Tyler Wahl, and Johnny Davis.
There are multiple transfers and multiple freshmen on the team. It will take time for them to get accustomed to the Wisconsin system and culture. I am really excited to see what players such as Chucky Hepburn, Steven Crowl, and Matthew Mors bring to the table.
Johnny Davis Will Be A Top 10 Player In The Big Ten
Johnny Davis only averaged seven points a game as a freshman last season. However, no one on last years team showed more potential and flashes then he did. The scoring may not have shown, but Davis played a lot of minutes. The Big Ten is such a physical league every night. It takes a young player awhile to get use to it and it’s understandable.
I love the IQ and athleticism that Davis brings. It will all come down to the scoring. He can pass, rebound, and defend. He will be looked upon to be a leader as only a sophomore. I am expecting a big sophomore rise from Davis this season. He should be on every opponents game plan and should draw the assignment of each opponent’s best defender.
Multiple Starting Lineups Will Be Used
Only three starting spots are safe. That is Davison, Wahl, and Davis. There are potentially six players that are fighting for two starting spots. We don’t know the official starting lineup, but it sounds as if Steven Crowl and Chucky Hepburn will get the other two spots tomorrow night. Crowl was really good against UW-Whitewater and Hepburn is no doubt the future point guard of this team.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t talent on the bench. Ben Carlson, Chris Vogt, and Jakobi Neath all have college basketball experience under their belt. Lorne Bowman will see minutes in the rotation as well. Greg Gard has shown he is not afraid to switch lineups. I could see this being the case early this season. With a bunch of new faces, the Badgers will have to figure this out by the time Big Ten season starts.
Chucky Hepburn Will Be One Of The Best Freshmen In The League
I can’t say this enough: I love what Chucky Hepburn brings to the Badgers. His freshman season will have ups and downs. However, he is a great floor general, solid defender, and does the little things right. The scoring may not be there, but he will be a really player in his Badger career.
If Badgers freshman @ChuckyHepburn starts the season opener, he’ll become the first true freshman to start in a season opener for Wisconsin since Devin Harris in 2001 pic.twitter.com/Wb6oZE98XB
— brandon harrison (@brandonharrison) November 8, 2021
Everyone loved what Johnny Davis brought last season as a freshman. Similar things should and will be said about Chucky Hepburn. If he starts, he will be the first starting true freshman for the Badgers since Devin Harris. Harris had a great career (obviously).
Wisconsin Misses The NCAA Tournament, But Plays In The NIT
There are a lot of veteran and talented teams in the Big Ten this season. Purdue, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio State, and Indiana are all teams that will finish higher than the Badgers. If you include Rutgers, Michigan State, and a talented Maryland squad, you have eight teams before the Badgers. It’s going to be a tough year in a tough conference.
Can the Badgers make the tournament? Absolutely. I just think with the depth of the league and the long Big Ten season, it will probably take a deep run in the Big Ten tournament to see the Badgers dancing in March.
This may not be the year they dance. The future, however, is really bright.
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