With January coming to a close, the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers on Monday received their first top-10 ranking in the AP poll since the second week of the season.
Spearheading the top-10 ranking was sophomore Ethan Happ, who also earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week. Happ is the first Badger to receive the honor in back-to-back weeks since Mike Wilkinson in 2005.
The Badgers were last a top-10 team the week of Nov. 14, when they were ranked No. 9.
Happ shared the honor the first time around with Indiana guard James Blackmon, averaging 19.5 points, nine rebounds, 4.5 assists, 3.5 blocks and 1.5 steals in wins over Michigan and Minnesota.
Happ outdid himself this past week, averaging 23 points, seven rebounds, 3.5 steals, two assists and one block in wins over Penn State and Rutgers.
After scoring 14 points and hauling in eight rebounds against Penn State, Happ put up a career-high 32 points while leading the Badgers (18-3, 7-1) to a 61-54 overtime victory over the Scarlet Knights under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
Happ’s career-high output made up over half of Wisconsin’s 61 points, as he was 12-of-18 from the field while the rest of the team finished 8-of-42.
While Happ kept Wisconsin in the game, no basket was bigger than his game-tying hoop with two seconds left, which sent the game into overtime.
Happ, who finished his freshman season as the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, is also currently pleading his case to become the Big Ten Player of the Year. He is the only player in the Big Ten to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists and steals in conference play.
While Happ could earn end-of-the-year conference honors, he is also making his case to earn All-American honors and additional awards, as he was recently named to the midseason watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, awarded annually to the national player of the year. Happ also appears on the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list and is in the running for the Kareen Andul-Jabbar Center of the Year and the Naismith Player of the Year awards.
While redshirting, Happ spent his season going toe-to-toe with Frank Kaminsky, the 2015 John R. Wooden Men’s Player of the Year, Naismith Award winner, Oscar Robertson Trophy winner, NABC and Associated Press player of the year, and the winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award.
Happ has credited Kaminsky with many aspects of his game, including his footwork, which leaves most big men looking foolish.
Not only is Happ the only player in the Big Ten to lead his team in several statistical categories during conference plan, he is also the only player in the NCAA to average at least 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, 1.5 steals and one block per game. He’s also on pace to become the first major-conference player in 20 years to uphold these numbers for an entire season.
Wisconsin next heads to Happ’s home state of Illinois to face the Fighting Illini (13-9, 3-6) Tuesday night at 8 p.m (BTN).