Preseason Preview: Wisconsin

Wojo on stands

Photo by Anthony Giacomino/ Paint Touches

The first official practices of the 17-18 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. Next up, the most hated all vermin, the Badgers of Wisconsin.

Team: Wisconsin Badgers
16-17 Record: 26-9 (12-6 B1G)
Postseason?: Unfortunately. Made it to the Sweet 16 as an 8 seed by upsetting top seeded Villanova before losing in overtime to Florida on this beautiful dagger
16-17 KenPom: 21
Date: 12/09/17
Location: The Kohl Hole
Coach: Greg Gard (3rd season)
Projected KenPom Range: 25-75
Projected Conference Finish: 8/14 in the Big Ten

Departures from 16-17
Bronson Koenig: Starting PG: 31.4 mpg, 14.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .419 FG%, .393 3P% (Graduated)
Zak Showalter: Starting SG: 29.5 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.1 tpg, .500 FG%, .398 3P% (Graduated)
Nigel Hayes: Starting F: 32.4 mpg, 14.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.7 tpg, .457 FG%, .314 3P% (Graduated)
Vitto Brown: Starting F: 21.0 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .398 FG%, .319 3P% (Graduated)
Jordan Hill: 3rd Man off the Bench: 9.9 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.3 tpg, .352 FG%, .257 3P% (Graduate transferred to Seattle)
62% of scoring, 44% of rebounding, 58% of assists, 53% of steals, 42% of blocks, 80% of 3PM

Nathan Reuvers: 4 star PF, ranked #73 overall by 247Sports
Brad Davison: 4 star PG, ranked #109 overall by 247Sports
Kobe King: 3 star SG, ranked #196 overall by 247Sports
Aleem Ford, 2016 3 star SF, ranked #343 overall by 247Sports (returns from redshirt)
Michael Ballard: Walk on SG (returns from redshirt)
Walt McGrory: Walk on SG

Probable Starters:
PG: D’Mitrik Trice: 6-0 178 lb SO: 18.3 mpg, 5.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .380 FG%, .418 3P%
SG: Brevin Pritzl: 6-4 195 lb RSSO: 8.1 mpg, 1.9 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.2 tpg, .342 FG%, .238 3P%
SF: Khalil Iverson: 6-5 212 lb JR: 15.3 mpg, 3.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .532 FG%, .308 3P%
PF: Nathan Reuvers: 6-10 220 lb FR: 4 star PF, ranked #73 overall by 247Sports
C: Ethan Happ: 6-10 232 lb RSJR: 27.8 mpg, 14.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.8 spg, 1.2 bpg, 2.2 tpg, .586 FG%, .000 3P%

Probable Bench:
Alex Illikainen: 6-9 232 lb JR PF
Brad Davison: 6-3 190 lb FR PG
Charles Thomas IV: 6-8 252 lb JR PF
Kobe King: 6-4 175 lb FR SG
Aleem Ford: 6-8 208 lb RSFR SF

Probable Benchwarmers:
Andy Van Vliet: 7-0 225 lb JR PF
Aaron Moesch: 6-8 226 lb RSSR PF
TJ Schlundt: 6-5 191 lb RSJR SG
Matt Ferris: 6-6 200 lb RSJR SG
Michael Ballard: 6-4 190 lb RSFR SG
Walt McGory: 6-3 190 lb FR SG
Trevor Anderson: 6-2 180 lb SO PG (Redshirtting)


• On paper, the Badgers should not be a tournament team this season. They were barely a top 25 squad last season and lose 4 starters to graduation and a bench player to transfer. Their recruiting class is solid but not earth shattering, ranking in the top 40 by most services. They have a three-star prospect from last year coming off redshirt that was ranked somewhere in the 300s. This team screams NIT. But these are the Badgers. The slow, plodding, consistent, and efficient Badgers. Knowing them, unproven players like Brevin Pritzl and Alex Illikainen will come back as legitimate high major starters, their do it all center Ethan Happ will become an All American, and their lowly ranked redshirt Aleem Ford will magically be high major caliber starter. It’s just what the Badgers do.
• Every Marquette fan is familiar with Ethan Happ by now. He was a run of the mill 3-star forward in the 2014 class. He joined the long tradition of Badger redshirts before establishing himself as the starting C in his 2nd year. Last season Happ led the Badgers in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks from the center position. He is a strictly a post player. The number of buckets he has scored outside of the paint can be counted on one hand. He displays incredible hands, perfect footwork, and a high motor that allows him to outwill his opponents for rebounds. His passing ability is what truly makes him dangerous. If teams tried to double Happ in the post he simply kicked it out to one of the many shooters on the floor with him. It will be interesting to see just who he is passing it to this season.
• The Badgers lost their best shooter and point guard when Bronson Koenig graduated. Stepping into his shoes will be rising sophomore D’Mitrik Trice. Trice is one of the rare few who earned playing time for the Badgers as a true freshman. He was the first man off the bench last season, sometimes running the point but always launching the long ball. A little over half of Trice’s FGM were from beyond the arc and his 41.8 3P% led the team. He did fade a little in the postseason. Starting with the B1G championship game he started a 4-game streak where he scored a total of 6 points and went 2-13 from the floor. Trice will be leading returning three-point shooter with 38 makes. No one else on the Badgers’ roster hit more than 5 last season.
• Trice’s running mate in the backcourt is a bit of a question mark as of this writing. Rising sophomore Brevin Pritzl was highly ranked coming out of high school but injuries have really held him back early in his Badger career. With a summer to get fully healthy it is possible that Pritzl will finally get the opportunity to showcase himself. The Badgers rely on guards who can shoot so he will need to improve on his 23.8% 3P% from a season ago. He will have two talented freshmen pushing him for minutes both hailing from the Western Wisconsin/Eastern Minnesota area that is Coach Gard’s comfort zone. Brad Davison was ranked as 4-star prospect and Kobe King was Mr. Basketball for the state of Wisconsin. Freshmen usually aren’t starters in Madison so Prtizl will likely get the nod but these two will be lurking.
• Starting at the wing is physical specimen Khalil Iverson. Iverson is a charge straight at the basket type player. He loves to score off the cut and is very efficient in his shot selection. Marquette is not looking forward to seeing him again as he posted a career high in points with 16 the last time to the two teams met. Defense is a concern for Iverson as he ranked in the bottom 20th percentile of all Division 1 players in points per possession allowed. He is yet another probable starter who struggles to shoot from range. He has 6 made three pointers to his name and is a career 24% outside shooter.
• There is no obvious answer to who the Badger’s fifth starter will be. It needs to be someone with size and preferably the ability to spread the floor. Redshirt Aleem Ford, stretch 4 Alex Illaniken and bruiser Charles Thomas IV are all options here. We however gave the nod to true freshman Nathan Reuvers due to his combination of size and shooting. A native of the Twin Cities, Reuvers is a skilled big man who loves the pick and pop. He is the highest rated player that the Badgers have landed since Sam Dekker arrived in 2012. With a little development, he could slide nicely into the role played by Vitto Brown last season.

I do think that Marquette is the better team of the two next season. There are just so many questions about the Badgers, most pressingly about their ability to spread the floor. What made Happ so special last season was that any team that double teamed him would be immediately eviscerated by a three from either Koenig, Showalter, Brown, Trice, or occasionally Hayes. Teams are more likely to crowd the lane this season with Pritzl, Iverson, and a bunch of true freshmen hovering on the three-point line. All that being said, I never feel confident going into the Kohl Hole. I think Iverson and Happ have career days to counteract Marquette’s long-range attack. It’s a back and forth battle but Trice’s last second shot rattles home and the Badgers win by a single possession.

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Categories: Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic


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