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Wisconsin basketball: regular season team awards

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Which Badgers stood out this season?

Dan Sanger

With the conclusion of the Big Ten regular season, the conference awards were released earlier this week. While representation for the Badgers in the awards were light for a team with the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, many players made significant contributions to the team that deserve recognition.

With that in mind, B5Q takes a stab at some team awards for the regular season conference title clinching Badgers.

Minnesota v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Team MVP: Micah Potter

Micah Potter ended the regular season as the second leading scorer on the team while playing only 18 minutes per game. The junior missed the start of the season due to NCAA ineptitude, but he made up for wasted time in a major way providing 10.3 points per game of offense and a team leading 6.3 rebounds per contest.

Potter struggled at times on the defensive end of the court, but his offense was a huge lift. The Badgers were 16-5 with Potter in the rotation, and he was a major catalyst for the improved play of the team down the stretch.

Not only did Potter give the team a jolt of energy and enthusiasm, but he also allowed Nate Reuvers to catch a breather as he guarded some of the best players in the conference. All season long Potter provided the offense an immediate scoring boost when he was on the court shooting over 53% from the field, 46.9% from three-point range, and 85.7% from the free throw line. Micah Potter was the most impactful player on the 2019-2020 Badgers, and the team improvement down the final ten games was heavily correlated with what Potter brought to the team.

After being snubbed for any conference awards, he rightfully earned the title in this arbitrary and made up consolation prize from B5Q.

Northwestern v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Most improved player: Aleem Ford

Aleem Ford has slowly built himself into a tremendous role player for the Badgers. After two seasons in which he contributed offensively, but struggled the defensive end and in efficiency, Ford broke out as the season wore on without Kobe King.

The junior forward doubled his scoring and rebounding numbers from last season up to 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds on a per game basis, and showed the ability to create his own shot off the bounce, as well as the ability to hold his own on the defensive end more often.

In the final 10 games of the season Ford was at his best though, averaging over 10 points and over six rebounds per game on 49.4% shooting from the field.

Minnesota v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Defensive player of year: Nate Reuvers

This is a hard one to analyze, given that most defensive statistics that are present in a box score lie, or do not tell the whole story. Plus, most defensive analytics measures are not perfect in obtaining the whole picture. However, Nate Reuvers endured an absolute gauntlet of big men in the conference. The Big Ten had one of the best collection of forwards and centers in conference history across the board, and Reuvers was called upon to cover them all.

While Reuvers was not particularly strong in defensive rebounding, with a meager 4.6 total rebounds per game at 6-foot-11, he was fifth highest in the conference by blocking 7.6% of shots (56 total) against him according to FOX Sports Advanced Stats.

In addition to his propensity to block shots, Reuvers did a solid job in post defense by holding his own against some of the best players in the conference, helping him earn the the seventeenth highest defensive rating in the conference, while the next closest Badger was all the way down to No. 30.

Reuvers still has a way to go in terms of being a defensive force, but he has showed improvement over the course of his career, and he had some of the toughest match ups on the court each night. Reuvers earned third-team honors this week, and his defensive effort was a big reason for his recognition.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 09 Ohio State at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Unsung hero: D’Mitrik Trice

D’Mitrik Trice gets the unsung hero award for his all-around unselfish and heady play this season.

The junior point guard played by far the most minutes this season, averaging over 32 per game, while also being the called upon to guard some of the best point guards in the country.

Trice’s overall statistics will not wow you offensively, scoring 9.6 per game on around 37.5% shooting from both the field and from three. Throw in 3.8 rebounds though, and an assist to turnover ratio of +2.5 and he was very good at doing the little things that a team leader is needed for. Trice was honored with third-team all-conference in this week’s awards, and deservedly so.

Michigan State v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Freshman of the year: Tyler Wahl

This was hard to choose.

But seriously, Wahl, the lone freshman in the eight man rotation, gets the honor here. He was an energizer bunny for the team early in the season, helping out with his hustle as the rest of his game becomes more refined.

At 6-foot-7, Wahl was a Swiss army knife in terms of where he lined up on any given night, helping defend multiple positions. While Wahl’s numbers were not eye popping, and he clearly has a great room for improvement, he lived up to the hype from the preseason.

Wahl will need to continue to better his shooting, get stronger in the off-season, and stop dribbling into the corner offensively, but he has a bright future at Wisconsin.