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Recapping Wisconsin’s regular season and looking ahead at the Big Ten Tournament

Our roundtable reconvenes to wrap up the regular season and more.

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Jake Kocorowski: Welcome everyone to another edition of the B5Q roundtable, where points don’t count except when you give up a 27-5 run in the final 6:51 of the game to head to overtime.

Tyler Hunt: Oof that was scary to watch.

Drew Hamm: Glad I was at work tbqh.

Jake: The Wisconsin Badgers rebounded from that nearly inexplicable final seven minutes to defeat Ohio State in overtime 73-67. They now own the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and are a shoe-in for the NCAA Tournament just about 10 days away. Our first question on this Monday evening:

After a rough 2017-18 campaign, what are your thoughts on this regular season’s outcome?

Tyler: Quite honestly I think this shook out exactly how most everyone thought it would.

Kevin O’Connell: This has been about as good a year as Badger fans could have hoped for heading into the year.

Tyler: I feel like the pre-Big Ten roundtable we all had the Badgers 4-5 and the same teams ahead.

Drew: I am pretty happy with how this season turned out but can’t help but wonder what this season would have been like if the Badgers didn’t have the 334th best free throw percentage in the country.

Tyler: Very true.

Drew: They didn’t lose a single game by double digits and potentially could have shared the conference title if they shot even five percent better from the line.

However, I predicted their overall record and conference record exactly right before the season (Jake, you can ask [our mutual friend] Joel) so I think things went as expected.

Jake: All things considered with still a mostly young and relatively inexperienced group, I think this regular season went well. I will call Joel, btw.

Tyler: Absolutely. Anything better, while obtainable, was probably a stretch.

Kevin: This team has rarely played down to competition as well ... outside the road loss at Western Kentucky and a home loss to Minnesota, the Badgers have beaten every team they “should” have

Drew: Yeah, it’s just a yearly moment for me where I go back over the schedule and sigh audibly about certain games.

Tyler: That’s a good point. Which is unlike some past teams who always seemed to play to the competition.

Drew: I’d argue home against Purdue and at Indiana “should” have been wins.

Kevin: True ... I guess I mean games we’d be shocked if they lost.

Tyler: Ugh, that Purdue game was one I forgot about.

Ethan Happ once again a first-team All-Big Ten player, but not unanimous. Surprised or no?

Drew: Not surprised he’s first-team, definitely surprised it wasn’t unanimous.

Tyler: Yes and no, feel like some people just don’t like his game for some reason.

Drew: On what planet have you been living if you see Ethan Happ’s stats and think that isn’t one of the five best players in the country, let alone conference.

Kevin: I am surprised by that, we know the free throw problem but there is no way he should be left off a ballot.

Tyler: Exactly, just by logic it’s pretty clear

Drew: I know some people still think advanced stats are the devil, but Happ is first in KenPom’s player of the year rankings by a considerable margin. To think that Lamar Stevens (who I think is awesome!) is better than him is ludicrous.

Kevin: Considering Wisconsin’s success this year too, it’s crazy to think he wasn’t on everybody’s ballot.

Drew: Maybe this person doesn’t get FS1 or BTN?

Jake: I have a feeling the free throw issues and inability to hit a shot from midrange on played a part in it, but I’m surprised about it regarding a player who averages a double-double this season, has two triple-doubles (almost a third on Sunday), and is one of the most unique players to come out of Wisconsin, especially with his ability to pass.

Kevin: Or maybe it’s Bomani Jones? [Jake’s note: That was just a joke, Bomani! Please come on our podcast which is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and pretty much everywhere where you listen to your favorite podcasts!]

Tyler: With those numbers I struggle to understand why people knock it. Like however you get it double doubles and triple doubles, it’s impressive

Drew: If Ben Simmons can be an NBA All-Star without a jumper, Ethan Happ can be first-team All-Big Ten without one. There, I shoehorned Philadelphia into this round table.

NEXT QUESTION: Looking ahead to the Big Ten Tournament, how far do you see UW going? Who is your pick to win the tournament?

Tyler: I could see them losing the first, or winning it all. Truly could go either way and I wouldn’t be surprised.

Drew: Being on the same side of the bracket as a newly healthy Michigan State spells an end to Wisconsin’s tournament in the semifinals.

Kevin: I see them at least making the semi-finals ... the double bye is huge and I think they are just a better team than Maryland (assuming the Terps beat Nebraska/Rutgers)

Tyler: Right now I think Michigan State is going to win it. They just click in March.


Kevin: I think it’ll be a tall task to beat Sparty in the semis, especially with the news that Nick Ward is returning

Tyler: I could also see Carson Edwards just going off Kemba style and winning the whole thing himself.

Kevin: I like Michigan State to win the tournament. They’re the most complete team in the Big Ten and it’s hard to bet against Izzo

Jake: I’m in a similar boat. I think the way Michigan State kicked it up a huge gear against Michigan was eye-opening. Wisconsin gets to the semis before bowing out, though I feel they’ll keep it close against Sparty.

Check out our latest episode with former Wisconsin standout Brian Butch talking about the Badgers’ season, their win against Ohio State and what lies ahead in the Big Ten Tournament! Be sure to follow Bucky’s 5th Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and pretty much everywhere where you listen to your favorite podcasts!

Give me your player that needs to step up for Wisconsin during the Big Ten Tournament to win the championship and why.

Tyler: I think it’s gotta be D’Mitrik Trice. When he was knocking down shots early in the year they were dangerous.

Kevin: I’ll go with Brad Davison ... for whatever reason, Trice doesn’t have much confidence right now.

Drew: Davison is 8-for-31 shooting from the field (5-for-19 from three) over his last four games. In two of those games he didn’t attempt a free throw. He needs to shoot better and give the defense something to think about from the outside to clear some room for Khalil Iverson and Happ to do work down low.

Kevin: Davison always seems to have the ball late in the shot clock in crunch time, when Happ can’t touch it due to his free throw shooting.

Tyler: Yeah, I think it really comes down to the guard spots. They go as far as those two go.

Drew: Davison also has seven assists to five turnovers in those four games. I know he isn’t the point guard, but he has the ball a lot and he needs to play mistake free basketball if the Badgers are going to beat Maryland. Let alone a far superior team like MSU.

What’s your prediction for Wisconsin’s seed in the NCAA tournament? How much could their B1G Tournament performance affect that?

Kevin: Going off what I’ve seen, they look to be almost locked into a No. 4 seed.

Tyler: I think a 4-5. Wisconsin always seems to get lower than expected though. But I don’t see how with this field they could drop below a 5.

Drew: A four seed seems pretty reasonable to me. Maybe the worst three seed if they win the conference tourney.

Kevin: I think that’s where they end up, but with a run to final maybe they could get to the three line. I’m just praying the Badgers don’t have to play Ja Morant and Murray State in round one.

Drew: I saw somewhere that was predicted as a 5/12 matchup, and I pooped my pants!

Tyler: I saw that too. Yikes.

Drew: I want ZERO to do with Ja Morant please and thank you.

Kevin: That would be preferable lol.