Oct 12, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Wisconsin Badgers men’s head coach Greg Gard speaks to the media during the Big Ten Basketball Media Days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Basketball: 3 Bold Predictions for the 2022-23 Season

Wisconsin Basketball: 3 Bold Predictions for the 2022-23 Season

Madison, Wis. – Before the Wisconsin Badgers return to the court Monday, November 7, against South Dakota at the Kohl Center, BadgerNotes makes three bold predictions for the 2022-23 season…


Wisconsin finishes as a top-100 three-point shooting team

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 23: Chucky Hepburn #23 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after Steven Crowl #22 made a three-point shot against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first half of the game at Williams Arena on February 23, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard isn’t oblivious to the difficulties his program faced on the court last season, specifically as it pertained to the offense.

Last season, the Badgers ranked 319th out of 358 division one programs in three-point shooting percentage (30.6%) and connected on just 6.5 threes per game (No. 262 in the country) – not good, not good at all.

Without Johnny Davis, who consistently got to the free throw line, those shooting splits aren’t going to cut it if UW’s going to contend in the Big Ten this season.

Wisconsin will have a much more balanced approach that relies on knocking down shots on the perimeter – and call me crazy, but I honestly believe we’ll see a marked improvement.

I’m not projecting Wisconsin to become the Golden State Warriors by any means, but they have more than enough players who, on paper, can provide perimeter shooting.

Players like Hepburn, Klesmit, Davis, Crowl, Essegian, Ilver and even Lindsey all have the ability to be above-average shooters – and with the offense likely running through the low post more this season – I believe those shooters will get plenty of open looks.

For Wisconsin to wind up in the top 100, they’ll need to shoot roughly 35% from beyond the arc, just above Wisconsin’s seven-year average on threes (34.6%) during the Greg Gard era.

I’ll eat my words if the shooting doesn’t look any better than last season, but my gut tells me three-point shooting won’t be UW’s Achilles heel in 2022-23.


Wisconsin basketball finishes with a higher adjusted offensive efficiency rating than last season, Per KenPom 

Oct 12, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Wisconsin Badgers players Steven Crowl, Chucky Hepburn, and Tyler Wahl speak to the media during the Big Ten Basketball Media Days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Without Johnny Davis and Brad Davison, Wisconsin loses 48% of its scoring from a year ago, but the big question is, how will the offense function without an All-American leading the charge?

My answer probably won’t excite you, but I expect Wisconsin’s offense to be a well-balanced, committee approach – much we’ve seen in the past.

UW’s formula for winning games will remain the same as its always been. Don’t over-dribble, move the ball, find the open man, touch the post, play inside-out and set up open threes.

Who steps up?

Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl are the most logical options to take a noticeable step forward and become stalwarts for UW’s offense to lean on heavily this season. Add in a sprinkle of Big Steve on the low block and perimeter shooting from Max Klesmit and Jordan Davis, and the Badgers should be in good shape.

There are also several intriguing high-upside rotational pieces like Connor Essegian and Markus Ilver that could raise this team’s ceiling if everything breaks right.

I may take some heat for this, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Wisconsin’s offense is better than it was last season – at least from an efficiency standpoint.

According to KenPom, the Badges finished with an adjusted offensive efficiency ranking of No. 62 – which is slightly worse than Wisconsin’s seven-year average (56.8 Adj. O) during the Greg Gard era.

Davis was a high-usage, ball-dominant wing player that didn’t necessarily have terrific shooting splits. This season, I expect we’ll see a tradeoff in production, which is important, in favor of greater efficiency, at least on offense.

I predict Wisconsin will finish with a higher adjusted offensive efficiency, without Johnny Davis, by returning to a more balanced, systematic approach.


Connor Essegian becomes the 6th man as a true freshman 

I have always been a big fan of Connor Essegian’s game and figured he’d become a significant contributor to the program at some point in his career. Given his performances in France and the reports coming out of camp, it looks like he’ll be a part of the rotation from day one.

Essegian has a swagger about him as a scorer that I love. If I had a shot as fluid, aesthetically appealing, and pure as his, I probably would too. His ability to provide instant offense and give UW a true five-tool shooter ensured him meaningful minutes – even as a true freshman.

“He [Essegian] does so many things offensively you can’t teach; we will help him with his defense,” said Gard. “I think what I’ve seen from Connor is an increased level of toughness, which is the first step towards being a better defender,” Gard said. And the other thing is he understands the rules and concepts; now they have to become habits and instincts so he can play faster and more aggressive.

I think it’ll take some time to acclimate to the college game, specifically on defense (he needs to be average), but when that happens, I wouldn’t be shocked to see his minutes shoot up and become the unofficial sixth man by the end of the season for the Badgers.

I’d love to see Essegian playing behind Klesmit and Davis, grooming him for what I believe will be a featured role in the offense down the road. I cannot overstate how much I love his fit at Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Basketball: State of the Union Address

 


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