It's a given: season-long success on the court equals national success on the recruiting trail. While Wisconsin had made 12 straight NCAA tournaments before this season, it advanced past the round of 16 just once in that span (2005), producing little noise with the big-time recruits, save Sam Dekker. Yet, head coach Bo Ryan has made a living off developing low-star players to fit his system, with Frank Kaminsky being the poster boy.
So has the program's first Final Four since 2000 prompted stronger interest from top-notch recruits? Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal does a great job addressing that question, focusing on 2016 forward Nick Rakocevic (St. Joseph, Westchester, Ill.). I don't always put a lot of stock into recruiting, especially when to comes to the Badgers' football and basketball programs, but it's hard not to imagine Wisconsin crossing onto the radars of more top prospects. One thing will remain consistent, regardless: Ryan and his coaching staff will continue to find guys who fit the system, no matter how many stars are attached to their names.
With the departure of wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, who in the heck is going to catch the ball for Wisconsin this season? Jordan Frederick remains largely untested. Alex Erickson really hasn't seen the field much either, but the potential is there; likewise with Rob Wheelwright. What about Kenzel Doe? The North Carolina native has made two big plays in particular over the past two seasons: the punt return vs Utah State in 2012 and the kick return vs South Carolina in last season's Capital One Bowl. Herein lies the problem -- they've both been made on special teams. Doe has been inconsistent thus far as a slot receiver, but his level of play will need to improve immensely to keep Wisconsin's passing game afloat. Fortunately, Doe recognizes this, as chronicled by Fox Sports Wisconsin's Jesse Temple.
"I tell Coach each and every time, I want to be No.1. I'm not going to settle for No.2 or No.3 just because I'm the slot...Come fall, I'm going to make plays and if he wants to go with saying I'm the No.1 receiver, then that's what it's going to be."
I included a link in the April 14 Badgers Bits about the development of Chikwe Obasih, and Temple also documented Obasih's toughness and newly-renovated technique that led to his emergence as one of the candidates to start at defensive end. Optimism varies in April, but I'm not getting near the panic button regarding the defensive line. I know they practically lost everyone, but Warren Herring is going to be really solid. Plus, Bryce Gilbert was a serviceable option in the rotation last season and Konrad Zagzebski has proven he can hold his own at one of the spots. If Obasih is everything as advertised, the unit will get after opposing quarterbacks.
2014 NFL Draft news: Could Borland team up with Brad Nortman in Charlotte? NFL Network broke down Borland's draft stock. B5Q's Andrew Rosin also broke down the Beau Allen's draft prospects, while Jake and Scott chatted with the big guy about his draft prep. Heavy defensive linemen like Allen, who succeeded at stopping the run from either technique, typically find land somewhere in the NF -- look no further than the journey of former Badgers and current Dallas Cowboys lineman Nick Haden.
Largely given the team's weak-on-paper 2014-15 schedule, Wisconsin won't have any primetime conference games. Hooray, in all likelihood, for more 11 a.m. games. I do agree with one of our followers (@jonarens) that 2:30 p.m. ESPN/ABC-televised games are so much better than BTN primetime games, and the ratings of the team's exposure aren't even comparable.
Former UW walk-on center Ian Markholf was one of the 10 heaviest basketball players in college basketball last season, weighing in at a listed 261 pounds, according to KenPom. Yes, the big guy is still around. After two years in Madison, Markholf settled down at Incarnate Word, putting up a solid 2013-14 stat line with an average of seven points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Wait, so you're telling me J.J. Watt, Russell Wilson or Borland wasn't the most Googled athlete in the state of Wisconsin? Oh, OK. Kidding aside, Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers deservedly receives the nod.
Video of the Day
Back-to-back-to-back buzzer-beaters? You betcha it's WILD WEDNESDAY. The man who donned Michael Jordan's No. 23 jersey, Kammron Taylor, cemented himself as one of the top point guards under Bo Ryan, a position that Ryan places the highest significance upon. In the winding seconds of Taylor's and Alando Tucker's Senior Day game in 2007 against Michigan State, a high ball screen between the two senior stars set up a game-winning three-pointer with four seconds left to clinch a 62-60 win. Old-school Erin Andrews is the best Erin Andrews, by the way.