Bo Ryan

2013-2014 Season Preview: No. 20 Wisconsin Badgers

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. The rest of our Top 25 Countdown can be found here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 23-12, 12-6 Big Ten (t-4th); Lost to Ole Miss in the Round of 64

Head Coach: Bo Ryan (13th season at Wisconsin: 291-113 overall, 143-60 Big Ten)

Key Losses: Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans

Newcomers: Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Riley Dearring, Jordan Hill, Vitto Brown

Projected Lineup

G: Traevon Jackson, Jr.
G: Ben Brust, Sr.
G: Josh Gasser, Jr.
F: Sam Dekker, So.
C: Frank Kaminsky, Jr.
Bench: Bronson Koenig, Fr.; Nigel Hayes, Fr.; George Marshall, So.; Evan Anderson, Jr.; Zach Bohannon, Sr.; Zak Showalter, So.

They’ll be good because …: They always are. That’s simply how it works in Madison. Regardless of what happens during football season, Badger fans can rely on the fact that their basketball team is going to be good enough to compete for a Big Ten title. That’s just the way it is. If you’re a Big Ten hoops fan, the following stat won’t come as any surprise to you: Bo Ryan has been the head coach at Wisconsin for 12 years, and he’s never finished worse than fourth in the league in those 12 years despite the fact that the Badgers seemingly lose two or three “indispensable” pieces each spring.

You don’t really need an argument better than that one, but I’ll give it to you anyway: Sam Dekker. Dekker was a five-star recruit coming out of high school that was relegated to the bench in his first season with the Badgers. He still managed to averaged 9.6 points despite playing less than 23 minutes a night on a team that plays as slow a pace as anyone in the country. But Dekker, a 6-foot-7 wing with all the prerequisites (length, athleticism, handle, deep range), is good enough to be considered a sleeper to win Big Ten Player of the Year, which means that he’ll be good enough to carry the Badgers if, by some stroke of fate, Ryan can’t figure out a way to get Dekker’s supporting cast of no-names to look like all-league performers.

source:
AP

But they might disappoint because …: The Badgers really don’t have all that much size this year. Frank Kaminsky looks like he could end up being the next pick-and-pop big man to thrive in Ryan’s Swing Offense, but he averaged 4.2 points and 1.8 boards in 10 minutes last year. That’s solid production, but will it translate when he sees his minutes increase? And rest assured, his minutes will increase, because the Badgers don’t have any other proven assets in their front court. Nigel Hayes is a four-star recruit, but the 6-foot-7 forward is a lanky athlete that doesn’t really have the bulk to bang with the big boys just yet. Evan Anderson and Duje Dukan are big redshirt juniors that have been in the program since 2010 and played a combined 46 games in those three seasons.

There are some good big men in the Big Ten this season — Adreian Payne, Mitch McGary, A.J. Hammons, Noah Vonleh. How will the Badgers match up with them?

Outlook: I have complete and utter faith in Bo Ryan at this point. I can look at this roster and point out the holes — they don’t have enough size, their back court is flooded with little guards, the point guard spot will again be a question mark this season if Josh Gasser doesn’t return to form this season coming off of ACL surgery, they really don’t have a true four on their roster — and come February none of it will matter. It happens every year, and, as we noted earlier, every year that Bo Ryan has been at Wisconsin, he’s finished in the top four.

So yes, I agree with you. I look at this roster and very little about it screams to me “top 25 team”. But until Bo Ryan fails to finish in the top four of the Big Ten, he will find a spot in my preseason top 25. Because if you are one of the top four teams in the Big Ten, you are one of the top 25 teams in the country. That’s just how it works.

Johnson, Paige help No. 9 Tar Heels roll past Panthers 85-64

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks against Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson scored 19 points to lead a dominating offensive performance that helped No. 9 North Carolina beat Pittsburgh 85-64 on Sunday.

Marcus Paige added 15 points for the Tar Heels (21-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 59 percent to stay atop the league ahead of the next renewal of their fierce rivalry with Duke.

UNC had plenty of balance, shared the ball and got out in transition in arguably their best performance in weeks, using a 13-0 second-half burst to blow the game open. UNC finished with 26 assists on 32 baskets, 24 points off turnovers and scored 16 fast-break points after managing a combined five in the past two games.

Michael Young and James Robinson each scored 15 points to lead Pitt (17-7, 6-6). But the Panthers shot 37 percent and committed 19 turnovers, and a strong effort on the glass did little to offset their troubles.

The Tar Heels were playing their first home game in two weeks after a difficult three-game road trip that started with losses at Louisville and Notre Dame. Then came Tuesday’s game at Boston College, where the Tar Heels struggled against a winless league team then had a scare when Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams briefly collapsed in a second-half huddle after an attack of vertigo and had to leave the sideline for the rest of the game.

Williams was back in the office on Wednesday’s off day, returned to practice Thursday and told reporters Friday he was fine and even cracked jokes about a two-decade history with vertigo dating to his Kansas years.

Getting back home certainly helped everyone feel better. After wrestling with shooting struggles for much of the past month, UNC’s offense kicked back into an efficient and balanced gear, while Paige – the player the Tar Heels are practically begging to jolt free from a prolonged shooting slump – looked more like his old self against the Panthers.

That included one second-half play in which he caught a crosscourt pass from Theo Pinson in transition and made sure to step back behind the arc before burying a 3-pointer.

The Panthers had lost three of four since a 5-2 league start coming in, including 65-63 on a late tip-in at No. 12 Miami on Tuesday. And Pitt again had trouble getting their offense going, failing to crack 70 points for the third straight game.

TIP-INS

Pittsburgh: Second-leading scorer Jamel Artis scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting. … Pitt finished with a 41-29 rebounding advantage. … Pitt made 9 of 21 3-point attempts.

UNC: Justin Jackson scored 14 points. … UNC made 8 of 15 shots from 3-point range and 13 of 15 free throws. … Jackson and Pinson had six assists each. … UNC managed just one offensive rebound.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday.

UNC hosts Duke on Wednesday.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) shoots over Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
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Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.