We are going to look forward at each of the Mocs out of conference, D1 opponents in the coming weeks. Today, we'll start with the first out of conference opponent for the Mocs, the Wisconsin Badgers. These previews will not be wildly in-depth, but will give a fan an idea of what kind of team is ahead for the Mocs out of conference.
The Badgers made it to the Final Four last year and are considered a serious threat to make it that far yet again. They have not played great offense throughout the time that Bo Ryan has been the head coach there, but last year took a major step forward. This year, they are expected to be just as good offensively as they were a year ago. The Badgers have been known for being a very good defensive team under Ryan, and their defense played well in the NCAA Tournament. That's why the Badgers are going to be such a tough team to beat.
Their best player is Frank Kaminsky. As a seven foot center, the Mocs have no one to match up with him. He made nearly 38% of his three pointers a year ago and averaged 13.9 points per game.
Traevon Jackson and Sam Dekker also averaged in double figures. Dekker, Kaminsky and Josh Gasser each averaged over four rebounds per game. Kaminsky is such a great player, the Mocs will have to be prepared to play the best player they will see all year. In fact, Jackson and Dekker may be the second and third best players they face all year. That is the sort of challenge that Wisconsin presents.
The Badgers as a team made 74.6% of their free throws a year ago, setting school records for makes and attempts in the process. That just adds to the complexity of beating the Badgers. They make a lot of threes, make free throws and play tremendous defense. The Mocs do not have a lot of height and that will make it challenging for the Mocs to beat the Badgers. The Badgers will try to get into a halfcourt game, while the Mocs will be trying to speed the game up. The Mocs offense will have to push to get off good shots against Wisconsin.
This seems like a game that the Mocs are highly unlikely to win. They would have to play a near perfect game and even that might not be enough against Wisconsin. Still, the Mocs can make a big splash simply by keeping the game close.
This game will be nationally televised on ESPNews on a Sunday afternoon, so it should be entertaining to see the Mocs in this game and see how they perform against one of the nation's best.
Wisconsin is likely to make a run in the tournament again. I would expect the Badgers to be in the Elite Eight at least this year. Who knows where they will go from there?