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Wisconsin basketball 2020-21 preview: continuity is key

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After winning the B1G last season, what could the future have in store for the Badgers basketball team?

Dan Sanger

In a season marred with turmoil and adversity, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team rose through and were able to claim their first Big Ten conference championship since 2015. The team was comprised of only eight scholarship players, including only one scholarship player in the regular rotation with senior eligibility in Brevin Pritzl.

After reviewing the accomplishments of the team in 2019-2020 over the past week or so, lets look ahead into the future at a glimpse of what the 2020-2021 might have in store.

In the first of a series of 2021 Wisconsin basketball outlooks pieces, B5Q dives into what all returns for Greg Gard next season.

With nearly everyone back from a magical run that included eight straight wins to close the season, there is a sense of optimism surrounding the program heading into 2021.

A big reason for that is the chemistry and continuity that will be in place for next year.

Starting in the coaching staff, Greg Gard will be back for his sixth season as head coach, and will be playing with only players that he has recruited and brought into the program. On the bench next to him are his most trusted advisers, his assistant coaches Dean Oliver, Joe Krabbenhoft and Alando Tucker. Howard Moore is currently on medical leave, so it would not be a surprise to see Tucker elevated from “interim assistant coach” to taking over that role in a full time capacity and title.

The return of all three assistant coaches though, at least as things currently stand, is huge though. All three coaches are still fairly young, and undoubtedly gained tremendous experience last year, that should help the trio better understand their specific niche within the program and improve their working relationship with each other and the players.

In the end however, games are generally won by the players on the court.

Wisconsin returns all players on the roster except for Brevin Pritzl and Michael Ballard, as well as Kobe King who left the program earlier in the season and transferred to Nebraska.

Returning production by % of team

% of minutes % scoring % rebounding % assists % blocks % steals
% of minutes % scoring % rebounding % assists % blocks % steals
77.51% 78.51% 83.48% 86.15% 80.15% 88.18%
Wisconsin returns greater than 77% of the team’s statistical production from a year ago in these six major categories.

In terms of statistical production (seen above), the Badgers will be returning the vast majority of their key play makers, which should help the team navigate the rigors of the Big Ten, and potentially given them a chance to make some serious noise in the NCAA Tournament if all goes according to plan.

In a day and age in which the best players routinely leave early to enter the NBA Draft and players often transfer to find new homes, Wisconsin will be returning most of the team that led them to a conference crown. Pair that with an influx of talented freshman — the No. 19 class in the entire country, and No. 3 in the B1G — and the Badgers should be extremely talented and set up nicely for another great season.

The Badgers may not have had any players on either the first-team or second-team all-conference ballots in the Big Ten, but that should change next season as some of the elder statesman of the conference, and some of the supremely talented youngsters from a year ago move on.

Don’t be surprised to see Wisconsin ranked in the top-15 in the initial preseason rankings next season, in large part because of intense chemistry and continuity that will be retained from last season.