#3 Wisconsin Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Wisconsin Badgers

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten

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Wisconsin was so close to reaching the national championship game. But reaching the Final Four, Coach Bo Ryan’s first, certainly got the nation’s attention. The Badgers lose just one player from a 30-win team, so the expectations are extremely high. Not only should UW win the Big Ten, the expectations are that this group can do what they failed to do last season. Seven-footer Frank Kaminsky led the team with 13.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks and will shoulder much of the pressure. Like most Wisconsin big men, Kaminsky can step outside and knock down three-pointers. While that is usually the case in Madison, having a seven-footer who can beat you with his long range shooting is nearly impossible to defend.

2013-14 Record: 30-8, 12-6
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bo Ryan
Coach Record: 321-121 at Wisconsin, 704-224 overall

Who’s Out:
Ben Brust was second on the team in scoring last season behind Kaminsky and is the only departure from the Final Four squad. The 6-1 guard knocked down a team high 96 three-pointers and connected on 39.3 percent of his attempts. Missing an outside shooter is tough to do at Wisconsin, but Brust was also surprisingly tough on the glass.

Who’s In:
With only one departure, Coach Bob Ryan can easily keep his freshmen on the bench for most of the season. That is the Wisconsin way barring special talent. And this small class has role players, but not anybody who is going to make an impact as a freshman. Ethan Happ had a nice summer playing international and is a traditional Wisconsin power forward who can knock down shots. Walk-ons Matt Ferris and T.J. Schlundt will not likely see too much time and redshirt freshmen Riley Dearring and Aaron Moesch have a lot of work to do in order to crack the regular rotation.

Who to Watch:
Sam Dekker may be the most talented player on the roster. The 6-9 forward was one of those rare freshmen to start at UW and last season he boosted his production to 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. That is not bad, but it still seems like Dekker has another big bump in production in him. His outside shooting was less consistent than it could have been, but he is a guy who can take a few steps back from the arc and expect to make the shot. Nigel Hayes, last year’s sixth man of the year in the Big Ten, is the only big man on the team who stays in the paint. But he is still a matchup nightmare since he is deceptively quick and can score in so many ways around the basket. Duje Dukan was a pleasant surprise during his junior year and will be a fine backup forward.

Final Projection:
Traevon Jackson is the player who makes this team tick. He dished out 4.0 assists per game and took care of the ball despite the fact that Wisconsin picked up the tempo to take advantage of their offensive talent. Jackson also scored 10.7 points per game and connected on 38.2 percent of his three-point attempts. Josh Gasser is the most consistent shooter on the team though and he should boost his scoring this year as he helps cover for the absence of Brust. Sophomore Bronson Koenig will again backup Jackson at the point and Zak Showalter should find some minutes off of the bench after redshirting last season. Two years ago he averaged just 6.7 minutes per game, but he can provide an offensive spark off of the bench. Top to bottom, Wisconsin is the best team in the Big Ten and if the ball bounces their way, they can do more than just get back to the Final Four.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Traevon Jackson, Senior, Guard, 10.7 points per game
Josh Gasser, Senior, Guard, 8.8 points per game
Sam Dekker, Junior, Forward, 12.4 points per game
Nigel Hayes, Sophomore, Forward, 7.7 points per game
Frank Kaminsky, Senior, Forward, 13.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.5 (89th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.0 (40, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.9 (85, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.9 (131, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (43, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.6 (54, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.6 (24, 2)
Rebound Margin: 1.4 (144, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.3 (199, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 8.1 (1, 1)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#27 Sam Dekker
#48 Frank Kaminsky


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