2022-23 ITH Season Preview: Wisconsin Badgers – Inside the Lobby

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With the start of the college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be looking at the conference as a whole and Indiana’s roster over the next month.

Today our team previews continue with Wisconsin.

Previously: Northwest, Nebraska, Penn State, Maryland, Minnesota, Iowa

Greg Gard wasn’t as successful as Bo Ryan in Wisconsin, but he kept the Badgers in the top echelon of the conference.

During Gard’s seven seasons at Madison, he finished in the top half of the league standings in all but one season. He won two Big Ten titles (2019-20, 2021-22) and finished second (2016-17) and third (2015-16). Wisconsin has won a share of the Big Ten regular season crown in two of the last three seasons.

Each year the Badgers lose notable contributors and a downfall is expected. Last season, Wisconsin lost four starters and was chosen to finish 10th in the conference in a league media preseason poll. Behind a Johnny Davis All-American season, Wisconsin went 15-5 in the league.

Entering the 2022-23 campaign, Wisconsin is expected to drop in league standings again. Davis is now in the NBA and Brad Davison graduated after five seasons. If Wisconsin finishes at or near the top of the Big Ten, Gard will have managed to rely on three returnees.

Chucky Hepburn, Tyler Wahl and Steven Crown, all starters, are back in Madison. Hepburn averaged 7.9 points, 2.3 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 31 minutes per game as a true freshman. With the departures of Davis and Davison, he will have to create more offense in his second season. Hepburn shot 34.8% last season from 3s, but just 38.8% overall from the field.

The 6-foot-9 Wahl is a legitimate All-Big Ten contender. He averaged 11.4 points and 5.9 rebounds last season and is the team’s leading returning scorer. Wahl shot 51.6% from the field last season and can play both forwards.

The 7-foot Crowl has gotten better every season at Madison. Last season he played 25.3 minutes per game and had 8.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He’s not of the same caliber of player as some of the Big Ten’s elite greats, but he’s good enough to get by on most nights.

Beyond these three contributors, this is where Wisconsin has questions to answer. Wofford transfer Max Klesmit and junior Jordan Davis are the most likely elements to join the starting lineup. Klesmit, a Wisconsin native, averaged 14.9 points at Wofford and is a 34.5 percent career 3-point shooter. Jordan Davis, Johnny’s twin brother, played just 6.5 minutes per game last season. With his brother and Davison gone, he will have every chance to claim a much bigger role.

Green Bay transfer Kamari McGee is likely to support Hepburn then. McGee is also from Wisconsin. He averaged 11.6 points last season, but Green Bay was one of the worst teams in all of Division I. Other potential backcourt and wing contributors are senior Jahcobi Neath, walk-on Isaac Lindsey and rookie Connor Essegian.

Wisconsin’s frontcourt depth is thin behind Wahl and Crowl. Markus Iver, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Estonia, barely played last season but could be the first player to come off the bench up front. Chris Hodges, a 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman, gives Gard some height behind Crowl. Carter Gilmore, a 6-foot-7 junior, is another lightly used forward who could feature in the four-man rotation.

Regardless of the personnel, Wisconsin will once again be a frustrating team for Big Ten haters. The Badgers rarely turn the ball over, play at a deliberate pace and are tough to beat at the Kohl Center. Interestingly, Gard recently said Wisconsin could play in one zone this season.

At the end of the line: Wisconsin went 4-0 on an August trip to France, giving the Badgers a head start for the 2022-23 season. While the returning Hepburn, Wahl and Crowl trio are proving their worth, the Gard have plenty of holes to fill on the roster. Davis did as much for his team as any Big Ten player and Davison was one of the most experienced players in the league. It’s hard to see Wisconsin replicating last season’s success, but it would also be foolish to bet against the Badgers competing for an NCAA Tournament berth once again.

Quotable“To be honest, the most important thing I’ve learned is how close we’re going to be as a team and how close we already are as a team. “one of the most important things to having a great team and being successful through the year. Aside from basketball, just having so much time together helps formulate and jump-start your chemistry growth. or to accelerate your growth or your team chemistry. Just through the travels, hotels and sites that we have seen, in addition to basketball, brings this group together. And you will not be a good team, if you you’re not together. From that perspective, I liked the way the guys interacted. I didn’t see anyone isolated. I think it accomplished what we wanted in terms of getting these guys out of their way a little bit. comfort zone where they have to rely on each other.- Gard on what his team gained from the trip to France.

Filed in: 2022-23 Big Ten Preview, Wisconsin Badgers

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