The Badgers return to the Kohl Center tonight to get another season of Wisconsin basketball underway. Last year, Wisconsin went 25-8 and took home a share of the Big Ten Regular season title. This year, some big faces are gone but we’ll get a good look at some new faces as well as some old ones. Let’s dive into the Badgers season opener!
Who (are the Badgers playing): South Dakota
What (are they): Coyotes
When: 7:30 CT
Where: Kohl Center Madison, WI
How (to watch): Big Ten Network
Line: UW -12.5, total of 140.5
Series History: 1-0, Wisconsin won in the only meeting in 2010 76-61
Wisconsin will face off with the South Dakota Coyotes to open their 2022-2023 season. Last year the Coyotes finished with a record of 19-12. The Coyotes got hot late in the year winning 6 of their last 8 games and reaching the Summit League Semi-finals.
This year, South Dakota comes in under some new direction under first-year Head Coach Eric Peterson who was previously an assistant at South Dakota and Utah State. Despite the new coach, South Dakota is still predicted to be one of the top teams in the Summit League. According to the Summit Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll, the Coyotes are predicted to finish third behind the likes of Oral Roberts and South Dakota State, two powerhouses in the conference.
The reason for optimism for the Coyotes likely comes from the talented trio they have at the guard positions. A.J. Plitzuweit is back with the Coyotes after a medical redshirt season in 2021-2022. Plitzuweit was the Summit League Newcomer of the Year in 2021 and was named to the All-Summit League first team that season. Additionally, the Coyotes return a pair of 2nd team players in Kruz Perrott-Hunt and Mason Archambault. Both players averaged nearly 15 points per game last season.
Things to watch for Wisconsin
The rotation: I think we pretty much know who the starters are (Hepburn, Klesmit, Davis, Wahl, Crowl) but one thing I am always interested in seeing is the rest of the rotation. In their scrimmage against UW-Eau Claire Wisconsin went 13 deep but I doubt we see that many tonight. Just how deep does Greg Gard go with his bench? It will be an interesting thing to watch with many new faces.
The start: Wisconsin comes into this game without their best player from last year and without their clear vocal leader from last year. That’s a tough challenge. I’ll be interested to see how Wisconsin fares out of the gates in this one. Will this Badgers team come out strong or will it take them some time to get into the game? That will be a key to watch for, especially on the offensive side of the court.
The backcourt: South Dakota brings in some very experienced players in the backcourt. All three of the mentioned players above have been at South Dakota for 3 or more years now and bring a tough first test for Wisconsin. Guard Chucky Hepburn has passed almost every test thrown at him, but this one will be a good one for him to get things started. It’ll be great to see the Badger guard back in action after his injury to finish last season.