This question came in response to our article regarding Wisconsin’s adjusted offensive efficiency. The Badgers now have a positive points-per-100 possessions adjustment of 7.0, or 5.8%, given to their actual per game average offensive efficiency. Both of these adjustments are larger than those given to any other team in the nation.
The answer to the question is “no.” When thinking about kenpom’s ranking system, always keep in mind that it’s a predictive system. Giving more weigh to recent games when predicting the immediate future doesn’t seem odd at all.
Let’s do some quick math to see if treating the Kentucky equally to all others would cause a different answer. Coming into the Final Four, Wisconsin’s AdjOE was 127.5. They had played 38 games. 127.5 * 38 = 4,845. After the Kentucky game, Wisconsin’s AdjOE is 128.5. An AdjOE of 128.5 * 39 games = 5,011.5.
If all games were treated equally, you’d expect Wisconsin’s AdjOE against Kentucky to be 166.5 (5,011.5 – 4,845). The Badgers scored 123.3 pp100p on a neutral court against Kentucky and their 86.5 AdjDE.
No matter how boring and plain they may appear, it’s difficult to slot Wisconsin lower than fourth place at the beginning of a Big Ten season with Bo Ryan as coach. His teams in Madison finish fourth or better every year.
We wouldn’t be shocked to see them fall past the fourth place spot this year with the recent ACL tear in Josh Gasser’s knee, but there are enough veterans available to Coach Ryan to keep them at No. 4 in our preseason projections.
The Badgers have several players with a good amount of experience, but will need help from new faces. Although they are ranked in both the AP and Coaches Poll (#23 and #21, respectively), this is a team whose leading returning scorer is their least efficient offensive player and worst shooter. In addition, the point guard position is again a question mark after Gasser’s injury.
Glass Half Full
Senior Jared Berggren (27.8 mpg, 10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 37.2% 3FG) is a legitimate inside/outside threat. At 6’10”, 235, he’s big enough to bang down low but has a sweet stroke from downtown. Berggren was an adequate rebounder, but has room to improve. Defensively he’s able to disrupt shots and is the Big Ten’s second best returning shot blocker.
Ben Brust may need to handle point at times, but if he has improved his ability to score off the dribble that might not be a bad thing. The junior came off the bench last year and averaged 7.3 points in 21.3 minutes per game, excelling from behind the arc where he went 58/149 for 38.9%. If he sits out on the wing, defenders will be there and his production will be somewhat limited. If he can be just a bit more aggressive and have some success opening up his offensive game, Brust becomes a bigger threat with the ball.
Mike Bruesewitz is a 6’6” effort guy who struggled with his shot last year as a junior. After an effective field goal percentage of 55.4% as a sophomore, he shot just 46.4% last year. He can absolutely be better this year. Brusewitz, a very good offensive rebounder for his size, is still healing from a nasty cut (which required surgery) suffered in practice, but should be back sometime in November and shouldn’t be slowed down.
Guard Ryan Evans stepped up for the Badgers a year ago to average 11 points and more than 30 minutes per game. The 6’6” wing uses his athleticism to pull in defensive boards and block shots, but does take far too many 2-point jump shots.
No returning player logged more minutes than Josh Gasser (34.1 mpg, 7.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 45.2% 3FG), but the junior guard, who was expected to slide over to point guard to replace Jordan Taylor this season, tore his ACL in late October and is expected to miss the entire season.
Bo Ryan isn’t afraid to redshirt players, even McDonald’s All-Americans, but Sam Dekker should get a chance to prove himself as a true freshman. At #19 in the RSCI, Dekker’s reputation grew substantially over the past two years. He’s a 6’7” wing with good athleticism who can score in a variety of ways. He’s going to be a great player – maybe even as a true freshman. At a minimum, he’s a unique weapon and good all-around player that can help Wisconsin this season.
Wisconsin has plugged different players into its system and had things work out well. It’s a very slow offense, but it works. Last year the Badgers were efficient with the ball, but left something to be desired with their relatively weak 2-point shooting. The achievable improvement they could see in their 2FG% could greatly offset the impact of star point guard Jordan Taylor’s graduation.
On defense they’ll be strong as usual, but should be concerned about their 3-point field goal defense, which likely will be worse than a year ago when they kept their opponents under 30% from deep.
Others ready to step up
Whether it’s sophomore big men Frank Kaminsky (6’11”, 230) and Evan Anderson (6’10”, 255), junior wings Duje Dukan (6’8”, 210) and Zach Bohannon (6’6”, 210) or even 6’2” freshman guard Zak Showalter, it’s reasonable to think the Wisconsin coaching staff will make at least one inexperienced guy who isn’t being talked about much a contributor to this year’s team.
Bo Ryan generally doesn’t use his bench much and this group of guys does not need to be on the floor to ensure a successful season. However, one or two stepping up seems likely.
Glass Half Empty
Jordan Taylor graduated. Josh Gasser is out with an ACL injury. It’s a valid concern, but at the same time we think there are enough options for Wisconsin to compete with the best in the Big Ten. Redshirt freshman George Marshall and sophomore Traevon Jackson (5.4 mpg in 17 games) provide options for the future, but junior Ben Brust could also handle some of the duties.
2013 Recruiting: La Crosse, Wis. product Bronson Koenig highlights a nice group of commits for the Badgers. The 6’2” point guard can score and pass and may very well turn out to be the next stud lead guard in Madison. Riley Dearring is a 6’5” wing from Hopkins HS (Minn.) who gives Wisconsin a long, athletic player type that isn’t generally associated with their program. Keeping with the theme of long players, 6’7” power forward Vitto Brown and 6’2” combo guard Jordan Hill have also given their verbal pledge to Wisconsin.
A Look Back at 2011-12 Preseason Preview Quote(s)
“(Projected #4 in B1G) The world of basketball continues to bestow praise on guard Jordan Taylor and rightfully so. His 2010-11 season was not only good, it can almost be called legendary. However, his senior year will not be as statistically prolific and Wisconsin will greatly miss Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil.”
The state of Minnesota continues to produce impressive basketball talent, including those who stay home and play for the Gophers. However, with so many skilled players and some excellent high school and AAU programs, there are numerous student-athletes from the state that join Division I programs across the country.
In 2012-13, a number of Minnesotans will be difference makers at their respective schools. Today, we highlight several players who look primed to take sizable steps forward in their collegiate careers.
Marshall Bjorklund, North Dakota State
2011-12: 26.2 mpg, 11.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg
Not recognized nationally or in Minnesota as much as is probably warranted. Extremely efficient offensive player who shot 67.1% FG% last year. Bjorklund doesn’t turn the ball over and is a very good on the offensive boards Tough, solid interior guy. The Gophers will host NDSU on December 11.
Alec Brown, UW-Green Bay
2011-12: 31.3 mpg, 13.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 89 blk
Now a veteran at UWGB, he’ll need to lead a UWGB team that should be much improved compared to last year’s 15-15 team. His game should continue to expand under third-year head coach Brian Wardle (Marquette, 2001). It’s a huge year for both Brown and Wardle and one in which both of them are capable of earning national recognition. With his skills and a bit more bulk, Brown could find himself on NBA draft boards.
Quietly very productive off the bench last year, he’ll look to prove just how good he can be in 2012-13. Zags center Robert Sacre was drafted by the Lakers this summer, giving Dower a great opportunity to impress.
High-flying 6’6” forward played his first year of D1 basketball last year at Oregon with Gopher transfer Devoe Joseph. Emory is a big time athlete that will regularly make the highlight reel.
Ross Travis, Penn State
2011-12: 17.9 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg
With Tim Frazier on the team and transfer D.J. Newbill now eligible, Travis may not see his offensive usage go up tremendously, but he’ll be improved as a sophomore and should have a strong career at PSU. Minnesota plays Penn State in Minneapolis on either March 2 or 3 (date to be determined).
Moats didn’t see much playing time on a highly talented and senior-heavy team last year, but will be called upon often this year.
Kevin Noreen, West Virginia
2011-12: 12.0 mpg, 2.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Received a medical hardship waiver for 2010-11 season and played just 23 games last year before breaking an ankle. Noreen can be a prolific scorer and a match up problem for opponents at 6’10”.
In addition to the names above, there are returning players that look to build on their past success at the Division I level and may already have a bit more name recognition with followers of college basketball than those players listed above:
Mike Muscala, Bucknell, Sr, F/C: 17.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg. Muscala has impressed every year, but was superb as a junior. A strong senior season for the Bison could help his chances of reaching the NBA.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota St., Sr, G: 21.2 ppg, 5.9 apg, 5.1 rpg. Wolters is an ultra-productive point guard with good size. Some NBA teams will want to consider him next summer. Wolters & SDSU visit Williams Arena on December 4.
Trent Lockett, Marquette, Sr, G: 13.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg (with Arizona State). Big guard could be a difference maker in Milwaukee.
Jared Berggren, Wisconsin, Sr, F/C: 10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg. Versatile 6’10” big man looks to build on solid 2011-12 performance. The Gophers play at Wisconsin January 26 and host the Badgers on February 14.
Mike Bruesewitz, Wisconsin, Sr, F: 5.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg. Bruesewitz is a high-energy worker who may increase his offensive production now that fellow Minnesotan Jordan Taylor has graduated.