2014 Wisconsin Badgers Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 11/11/2014
No matter what you think of Bo Ryan's coaching style, there is no denying that Ryan is one of the top coaches in the country. Since Ryan arrived in Madison in 2001, the Badgers have made the NCAA Tournament every single year. They have won at least one tournament game in 11 of those 13 years. This is a Wisconsin program that went from 1949 through 1993 without even going to the NCAA Tournament once.
While Ryan's teams are often known for their extremely slow tempo, which some fans consider boring, last year's team changed it up a bit. They still weren't blazing up and down the court, but Wisconsin absolutely played quicker last year and didn't implement an all-out stall-ball style of basketball. Why the change? Bo Ryan knew he had enough talent to win higher-scoring games last year. In the past, Wisconsin has been at a talent disadvantage most of the time, but that wasn't the case last year. Ryan's ability to adapt to his team's makeup is just another example of his elite coaching ability.
Wisconsin lost in a very hard-fought Final Four game against Kentucky last year. The Badgers return a ton of talent, and they are a Top 5 team in almost everyone's book to start this season.
2014 Wisconsin Key Losses & Additions
Ben Brust is really the only guy gone from last year's team. Brust averaged 12.8 points per game, and he shot 39.3 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Brust finished his career as Wisconsin's all-time leader in 3-point field goals made with 235. One thing most people didn't notice was Brust's ability to rebound. Despite his 6-foot-1 frame, Brust averaged almost five boards per game in the last two seasons. Brust was a very good player, but to lose only one key guy is a major positive for Wisconsin.
Ethan Happ was a big recruiting get for the Badgers. Happ is the cousin of Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ, and he was a guy who was targeted by many big programs. He led his high school team to 28-0 record and a state title last year. His ability to score in many different ways has impressed the coaching staff. T.J. Schlundt and Matt Ferris are guards who are great long-range shooters, but it will likely take some time before they see the court.
2014 Wisconsin Backcourt
Traevon Jackson was last seen crouched down on the court visibly upset after very narrowly missing a potential game-winning shot against the Kentucky Wildcats in the Final Four last year. Jackson might have missed that opportunity, but he's been tremendous for the Badgers program in the last two years. Jackson isn't a natural point guard, but he's made huge strides at improving at the position. He is a natural leader, and Coach Ryan loves that about him. Jackson shot less than 30 percent from long range two years ago, but he buried 38.2 percent from beyond the arc last year. He is a clutch player who will lead this team in his senior season. Bronson Koenig will get a chance to start in the backcourt. Koenig shrugged off offers from Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas before coming to Wisconsin. The sophomore is ready for a breakout season. Josh Gasser is likely to spend a lot of the time in the backcourt, and Coach Ryan loves him. Ryan made it clear that he believes Gasser was the main reason Wisconsin made it to the Final Four last year. Gasser is a player that excels in every facet of the game, and his amazing efficiency is nearly unmatched in college basketball. He's very underrated.
2014 Wisconsin Frontcourt
The Wisconsin backcourt is good, but the frontcourt is clearly the strength of this team. Center Frank Kaminsky burst onto the scene last year as a superstar for the Badgers. Kaminsky is a 7-footer who plays like a stretch-four at times. He made 38 percent of his shots from 3-point range. He is terrific with his back to the basket, but he is also adept at getting a good look facing the hoop. There might not be a player in the country with post moves as good as Kaminsky's. Sam Dekker was very good last year, but he slumped a bit in the NCAA Tournament. The coaching staff is extremely confident that Dekker is set for a superb junior season. He played at the LeBron James Skills Academy in the summer, and many writers said he looked like the best player there. Nigel Hayes would start in the post for almost anyone else in the country. Hayes will be the sixth man here, and he's capable of taking over a game. He has really quick feet for his size, and his post moves are terrific. Duje Dukan might get limited minutes, but he's a good option down low as well.
2014 Wisconsin Futures Odds
It's no secret that this Wisconsin team is loaded. 5Dimes lists Wisconsin as the second favorite to win the NCAA Championship this year at +750. Sportsbook.ag lists the Badgers as the third-favorite at +900.
2014 Wisconsin Badgers Predictions & NCAA Basketball Picks
Coach Ryan has been one of the best in the country at maximizing his talent for a really long time. Now that he has terrific talent to work with, it's a scary thought for opposing teams. Wisconsin should be a much better team than they were last season. The Big Ten is a tough basketball conference, but it would be a big surprise if anyone else won the conference. Wisconsin makes a return to the Final Four this year, and I'll say they get all the way to the title game this time around.
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