No. 12: Wisconsin Badgers

Leave a comment

Midnight Madness is Friday. So we’re kicking off our college basketball coverage with our men’s preseason Top 25. Look for five teams posted a day, all this week.

2010-11 record: 25-9 (13-5), 3rd in Big EastTen
Lost in NCAA tournament Sweet 16

Coach: Bo Ryan, 242-91, 11th year (272-118 overall)

Last NCAA miss: 1998

2011-12 roster [click here]
2011-12 schedule [click here]
2010-11 team stats [click here]

The good: The combination of Jordan Taylor – perhaps the player of the year – and Bo Ryan – perhaps the nation’s most underrated coach – is enough to make the Badgers a Top 25 mainstay, despite losing sharpshooter Jon Leuer and starters Keaton Nankivil and Tim Jarmusz.

No player is better suited to running a coach’s offense. That’s no small thing when said offense regularly produces points as efficiently as any other program. Taylor may not reproduce his incredible 2010-11 season, but he’s certain to be among the nation’s top players and dictate just how good the Badgers will ultimately be.

Not that guys like Josh Gasser or Tim Bruesewitz or just along for the ride. Both will be crucial for their experience and scoring.

The bad: Losing Leuer, Nankivil and Jarmusz isn’t an overwhelming obstacle, but I’m sure Ryan would rather deal with another Sullinger spitting incident first.

Gasser and Bruesewitz will be a start, but Ryan will need juniors center Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans and senior Rob Wilson to improve and at least two of the newcomers – Jarrod Uthoff is the best among the five freshmen – to assume small and crucial roles.

If nothing else, they’ll need a sturdier defense if the offense slacks. The Badgers rarely allow a lot of points, but that’s standard for their style. Last season was one of the rare times when the perimeter defense was soft.

The unknown: Last season the Badgers struggled to find a third scoring option after Leuer and Taylor. It was technically Nankivil, but there’s probably not a clear-cut player this season.

Gasser seems like the best bet, but Ryan’s offense would be more effective if it were a big guy who could step outside and stretch the defense. That omits guys like Berggren and Wilson, while Uthoff might not be ready. Guess that leaves Bruesewitz.

(And yes, this section used to include a lengthy part about transfer Zach Bohannon. But he’s not eligible until 2012-13.)

Counting down the preseason Top 25

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Tennessee G Hubbs undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery

Robert Hubbs III, Anton Beard
Leave a comment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee guard Robert Hubbs won’t practice this week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday.

The school said in a news release that Hubbs had it done “to address chronic swelling issues that have been present since the preseason.”

No timetable has been set for when Hubbs could return to action, but he is considered doubtful for Tennessee’s next game on Dec. 12 at Butler. Tennessee (4-3) is in the midst of a 13-day break from games, which marks the program’s longest layoff during a season since December 1967.

Hubbs is averaging 15.3 points per game to rank third on the team. The 6-foot-4 junior has scored at least 13 points in each of Tennessee’s seven games.

Clemson lands 2017 guard

Brad Brownell
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Clemson landed a quality commitment on Tuesday as Class of 2017 guard A.J. Oliver committed to the Tigers. The son of Clemson women’s head coach Audra Smith, Oliver is regarded as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, although some others view him as a top-100 caliber player.

The 6-foot-4 Oliver attends nearby Daniel High School and should have some time to get acclimated with the players and coaches before he sets foot on campus. A versatile guard who plays hard, Oliver showed that he can make plays with the ball in his hands this summer with the Upward Stars.

Oliver is Clemson’s first commitment in the Class of 2017 and it’s a strong start for head coach Brad Brownell.