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Wisconsin men’s basketball: who is going to provide spacing for this team next year?

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The Badgers lost a ton of proven three point shooters from last season? Who will replace them?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 12 Big Ten Tournament - Wisconsin v Iowa Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The other day, my Twitter pal CJ Marchesani (follow him!), who is an NBA Draft writer for The Stepien and a college basketball data analyst, was talking about “spacing” and “gravity” in regards to three point shooting. I thought it was an interesting discussion and I wanted to know more about how the Badgers did in these two specific fields last year...so I asked him.

CJ was kind enough to pull up the data, which you can see in the tweet below, and it made me a bit worried about next season. If you can’t see the embedded tweets, here are CJ’s definitions of spacing and gravity.

Spacing: A player’s ability to draw their defender out of the paint to the three point line
Gravity: A on-ball player’s ability to draw their defender to them and away from shooters

In terms of spacing, the best player from last year was Brad Davison. Hey, that’s good! Davison is coming back next year. However of the eight players in the rotation from last season, players No. 2 through No. 6 have moved on and players No. 7 and 8, Jonathan Davis and Tyler Wahl, are back. Davison is No. 4 for gravity and Davis is No. 6 while Wahl is last.

These numbers beg a number of questions, mainly: who the hell is going to space the floor besides Brad Davison?!?!? Davis shot 38.9% from deep in his freshman year but only attempted 36 threes (tied for second fewest on the team with Wahl) and, quite frankly, seemed like this was a bit of an outlier number helped by him going 4-for-4 from three against Penn State in one game.

Wahl is a dreadful three point shooter, however he did improve from 21.4% shooting his freshman year to 27.8% shooting in his sophomore campaign. Unless he makes another large leap in his junior year, he is not someone opposing teams will concern themselves with (not his impossibly low gravity score above) when he’s lining up a three pointer.

Davison will be counted on for a lot of long distance shooting next year but the problem will be that every other team will know this and guard him accordingly. Wake Forest transfer Jahcobi Neath could provide some spacing for the team, as he shot 48% from three as a freshman (on only 25 attempts). Neath came crashing back down to earth as a sophomore though, shooting 23.1% on 26 attempts.

Freshmen guards Chucky Hepburn and Lorne Bowman will have to prove that they can make threes consistently before Big Ten teams respect them from out there and one of the young big men, either Ben Carlson or Steven Crowl, will need to develop their three ball too. A guy like freshman wing Markus Ilver could surprise some people in this regard, but he’ll have to earn his way onto the court first.

I guess the answer to the questions of spacing will have to be figured out during practice this fall because right now...there aren’t a ton of good options.