Preview: Wisconsin Badgers

Grit and defense will keep Badgers in the running for Big Ten title

Updated: October 22, 2013, 9:16 AM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

Head coach Bo Ryan of the Wisconsin BadgersJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBo Ryan's team will always have stifling defense, but will they score this season?

Wisconsin Badgers

2012-13: 23-12 (12-6)
In-conference offense: 0.99 points per possession (8th)
In-conference defense: 0.91 points per possession (1st)

In some respects, it was steady as it goes for Wisconsin in 2012-13. The 23 wins were nothing to sneeze at, nor was the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. A 12-6 conference mark kept the Badgers in the running for the Big Ten regular-season title, and Wisconsin advanced to the conference tournament final. It was another vintage defensive performance for Bo Ryan's charges, as they led the Big Ten in defensive efficiency. Still, with an offensive performance that was the poorest of any of Ryan's teams in Madison, and a one-and-done showing in the Big Dance, a pessimist might see some cracks forming in a formerly solid foundation.

The strength of the Badgers was clearly point prevention. Wisconsin's stingy defense, along with Ryan's typically slow tempo, held opponents under the 50-point mark a remarkable 10 times. Thank heavens for the shot clock. For the second straight season, Ryan pulled off the difficult feat of not only preventing 3-point looks, ranking seventh nationally in that area, but also limiting the percentage, allowing just a 29 percent success rate.

With the shot-blocking center duo of Jared Berggren and Frank Kaminsky on hand, the Badgers did fine inside the arc too. The defensive numbers were off the charts: In conference play, Wisconsin led the Big Ten in defensive rebound percentage, limiting fouls and holding down 2- and 3-point shooting.

Unfortunately, Berggren is gone, a victim of the NCAA's pesky rule limiting players to four years of eligibility. Berggren's frontcourt cohorts left with him. Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans moved on, Evans taking with him a team-best defensive rebound rate.


To read the complete 2013-14 preview article on Wisconsin, plus gain access to previews for every Division I college basketball team, you must be an ESPN Insider.