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2013-14 Record: 30-8 overall; 12-6 Big Ten (Tie/2nd)
Coach: Bo Ryan – At Wisconsin: 321-121,13 years; overall: 704-224, 30 years
2014 Wisconsin Top Returning Starters: Traevon Jackson G, Sam Dekker F, Josh Gasser G, Frank Kaminsky F
2014 Wisconsin Key Losses: Ben Brust G
2014 Wisconsin Preview, Picks & Prediction:
It would be incorrect to say the college basketball world didn’t appreciate Bo Ryan prior to last season. But once the Badgers emerged from the West Regional to earn Ryan’s first Division I Final Four berth – and first for Wisconsin since 2000 – it became the perfect opportunity for the sport’s media to lionize Ryan and his 704 career wins. There’s just one catch: Ryan and the Badgers aren’t fading away any time soon. Graduated shooting guard Ben Brust is the only player from last year’s rotation who doesn’t return, which makes Wisconsin the favorite to win the Big Ten and a legitimate threat to return to the Final Four. Like so many of Ryan’s best teams in Madison, the Badgers will boast far more experience than most of their opponents. Their rotation features two fifth-year seniors, two conventional seniors, one junior and two sophomores – and that doesn’t take into account the one or two players each season who seemingly come out of nowhere after having put their time in. Though the Badgers cranked up their tempo in 2013-14 to take advantage of their surplus of skilled players, they still took care of the ball better than anybody in America. Senior point guard Traevon Jackson deserves some of the credit. Fifth-year senior Josh Gasser’s return from knee surgery was another key to the Badgers’ 30-win season. Scrappy redshirt sophomore Zak Showalter also should contribute. Seven-footer Frank Kaminsky became the latest example of a Wisconsin player who puts in the time and comes out sublime. After investigating NBA possibilities in the offseason, the team’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker decided to return for one more year. Junior Sam Dekker became a better allaround player in his first season as a starter, but his talent level suggests he’s due for a significant leap and ought to replace some of Brust’s production. Sophomore Nigel Hayes won the Big Ten’s Sixth-man of the Year Award as his size, speed and offensive arsenal presented matchup problems throughout the league. Nobody will ever confuse Wisconsin’s roster for Kentucky’s, but last season’s Final Four nail-biter proved the Badgers belong on any stage. Both teams are loaded again and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they met this year with similar stakes.
2014 Wisconsin Basketball Betting Odds:
Wisconsin Current odds to win the National Championship: 9/1
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