Badger Bits: Wisconsin Without Ryan Evans

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

We'll see what comes of Evans' knee injury, but one thing is clear: Wisconsin cannot afford to lose their senior forward at this juncture in the season.

We've got to keep this piece short. The Ryan Evans knee injury has me too concerned to focus on trying to write anything too brilliant.

He hasn't had a great season -- that is one thing everybody agrees on. In fact, given that he's been more of an offensive focal point in his senior campaign, most people would say they have been thoroughly underwhelmed and disappointed with the performance of Evans this year.

I'll admit, I'm in that boat. But the guy still has significant value, and his knee injury has me biting my nails at an alarming rate.

After reading of his injury, I showed some of my friends the news. They all collectively held their breath and gave me concerned looks -- I could tell anxiety was running high.

All Badger fans should hope his injury is of only the day-to-day variety, because disturbing the nice eight-man rotation Wisconsin is rolling with right now would be devastating. The boys have won seven of nine, are playing their best basketball of the year at the right time and still have a legitimate shot to come out on top of this crazy Big Ten title race.

If you set aside Evans' above-average defensive skills and that rebounding prowess (he ranks third in the Big Ten in that category), the Badgers simply aren't as dangerous. Look at Michigan State -- if Evans misses that game next Thursday at the Breslin Center, matching up with Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix down low becomes a nightmare. Frank Kaminsky is the ideal role player for the Badgers because he can mix it up off the bench, but asking him to effectively defend either of those players for 30 minutes isn't realistic.

Fast forward to the Big Ten Tournament ... no, I can't. It's supposed to be the best four days of basketball I had ever witnessed in my brief 21 years, but Evans' injury casts a shadow over that prospect. If he's out, kiss any chance the Badgers had at winning that tournament goodbye.

I know, I know -- there is still a lot TBD about the situation, but the idea of him suddenly going down and missing games isn't good by any stretch. I've got my fingers crossed he's back on the line shooting jump free throws on Sunday for Senior Day. Because even if he hasn't been great this year, who isn't entertained by a jump free throw or two?

FRIDAY LINKS

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ESPN.com calls Virginia "college basketball's mystery." After last night's upset of No. 3 Duke, that's pretty difficult to argue.

BTN.com touts seven conference players who have flown under the radar this season. One Badger makes the list.

This could be cool: BTN's Mike Hall will sit down with Greg Shaheen, who ran the NCAA tournament for 12 years, for an inside look at the tourney selection process.

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