With the dust settled on rosters for the 2023-24 season, we’re going team-by-team in the Big Ten to assess where everyone stands and how things could shake out this year.
Next up is Wisconsin, a program coming off a 20-15 season with just a 9-11 league record. It was just the second time in the last 25 years the Badgers missed the NCAA Tournament and had a losing record in the conference. Head coach Greg Gard had his hands full trying to replace NBA first round selection Johnny Davis, and long-time program veteran Brad Davison. There were competitive moments, like an overtime loss to Kansas and 2-point loss to Purdue, but a stretch of six losses in seven games in January sunk their season.
- Jordan Davis (5.1 PPG)
- Chucky Hepburn, G (12.2 PPG),
- Steven Crowl, C (12.1 PPG),
- Connor Essegian, G (11.7 PPG),
- Tyler Wahl, F (11.3 PPG),
- Max Klesmit, G (8.4 PPG),
- Kamari McGee, G (1.3 PPG),
- Carter Gilmore, F (2.6 PPG),
- Isaac Lindsey, G (1.5 PPG),
- Markus Ilver, F (1.6 PPG),
- Chris Hodges, F (.1 PPG)
- AJ Storr, G (8.8 PPG at St. John’s)
Freshmen (Rankings from 247Sports Composite)
- Gus Yalden, F (four-star),
- Nolan Winter, F (four-star),
- John Blackwell, G (three-star)
RETURNING MINUTES: 89.6 percent (per barttorvik.com)
VS. INDIANA: Jan. 19, at Wisconsin; Feb. 27, at Indiana
WHY IT WILL WORK
The Badgers return the most minutes in the Big Ten and they’ve been good for too long to believe that last season was anything other than an anomaly. The returning production seems especially relevant at Wisconsin, a program with a clear culture and identity. In the year after Greg Gard last missed the NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin went 14-6 in the Big Ten. On top of all that, the league is down a bit this year and there’s real talent in Madison. They return four double-digit scorers from last season, added a promising transfer in A.J. Storr, and landed one of their better recent vintage recruiting classes.
WHY IT WON’T
You always have to be leery of banking your hopes on returning everyone from a mediocre team. Wisconsin’s issue a year ago was their offense, which ranked No. 140 in the nation in efficiency. They struggled to replace the production of Davis and Davison, and their issues on that end of the floor could persist. The Badgers have a bunch of solid role players, but no real stars. They’ll likely be in a lot of low-scoring slugfests, and they might come up on the short end without a go-to player in crunch time. Moreover, while it seems clear Wisconsin has a solid first five, it’s less apparent who will provide a spark off the bench. This is a team that could struggle more than others if they encounter injuries.
This is a team that made a deep run in the NIT last March, and then took a foreign trip this summer. They are bonded and hungry to prove that 2022-23 was a fluke. One forgotten aspect of last year’s team was Tyler Wahl dealt with an injury for most of the Big Ten campaign, and his offensive efficiency suffered compared to the year prior. He’s the heart-and-soul of the Badgers, and could clearly elevate their prospects just from being healthy again. There are three programs in the Big Ten who you don’t bet against over the last quarter century, and Wisconsin is one of them. They’ll be back near the top of the league in March competing for a Big Ten Tournament double-bye.
BIG TEN OUTLOOK: Top five
PRIOR ROSTER ANALYSES:
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