Badger Hoops - Fearless Forecast

Vitto Brown drive to the hoop
v. Florida A & M.  dwm
The Wisconsin Badger men's basketball team starts their trip through the B1G conference tonight with a home game versus the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers.

Thanks to a generous colleague, my son and I attended the Badgers last non-conference game, a spirited while not so competitive game with Florida A & M University last Friday night.

The Badgers played well and didn't fall into the trip which can happen when two teams clearly don't match-up competitively.

Wisconsin played their brand of basketball throughout the game.  Tough defense; precise passing with 'touches' to the post (players in or near the lane below the free throw line); drawing fouls; and making the extra pass.

The Badgers two losses, an early game at Creighton (which still hasn't lost) and to North Carolina in a tourney in Hawaii, provided a measuring stick.

But so did wins over Syracuse, Oklahoma, Georgetown, and Marquette.  Now, as they say, it gets real.

After the conference home-opener with Rutgers there is a two game trip through the Hoosier State as they play at Indiana and Purdue over five days (which means two trips).

Indiana is a ranked team and the Boilermakers will present a tough match for the Badgers.

Vitto Brown (in uniform) and family,
"Shades of Brown" sing anthem.
dwm photo
Most media 'experts' predict the Badgers to finish at or near the top of the B1G this year.  Wisconsin has finished in the top 3 every year for 15 years - the longest streak in conference history (the previous mark was 13 years, set by Purdue from 1920 - 32).

Judging by the schedule, I can see 3 or 4 conference losses for Bucky as possibilities.  It wouldn't surprise if they run the table, but beating Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State twice will be hard.

If you get to a game in the Kohl Center, I hope you get to enjoy one of the players sing.  Vitto Brown, a senior forward for Wisconsin, has a great voice and sings with his family which performs as the "Shades of Brown."

#30 took the lead on vocals last Friday and delivered a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. He may be the third or fourth option most nights among the starting five, but his game is providing a reliable shot from the outside and additional size inside on both ends of the court.

Bucky is always watching.
dwm photo
Virtually the entire team is back from a run through the Sweet Sixteen in the last NCAA tournament and the senior players (Brown, Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, and Zac Showalter) were part of two Final Four Badger squads.

Koenig and Hayes are the primary scorers.  Sophomore Ethan Happ is still improving, but is a double-double machine (points and rebounds) and critical to the team's success.

Bucky's boys have depth off the bench and a steady hand at the wheel with Greg Gard in his first full-year as head coach after 15 as assistant to legendary coach Bo Ryan.

There's a lot to like about this team; it's easy to get excited about their potential.

My Fearless Forecast is a finish at the top of the B1G regular season standings and a long run in the NCAA.