Wisconsin is a team that lost a lot over this past offseason, but the Badgers should still have a formidable set of guards to carry their team into the NCAA Tournament. While Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser were two studs on the court last season that may be hard to replace, the next line of players is waiting to step up for head coach Bo Ryan. Wisconsin's guards always play tight, fundamentally sound basketball. Good defense and few turnovers has always been the name of the game in Madison, and you should expect nothing different with Bo Ryan's backcourt this season. Here's a look at some of the key players that will comprise this set of guards.
Wisconsin's up-and-coming guard has been getting better and better each season in Madison. While playing behind point guard Traevon Jackson for the first two seasons of his Wisconsin career, Bronson Koenig has made major strides on the basketball court. Last season, Koenig played almost 30 minutes per game as compared to 15 his freshman year. As he begins to assert himself as one of Bo Ryan's best players, it wouldn't be surprising to see him play close to 40 minutes per game this season.
Koenig was one of Wisconsin's most efficient players last season. He averaged 2.5 assists and just 0.8 turnovers per game in the 2014-15 season. He made over 81% of his free throws and knocked down over 40% of his three point attempts. Koenig is excellent with the ball at the top of the key. He facilitates the offense well and knows the schemes that Bo Ryan wants to implement. As an underclassmen, Bronson Koenig rarely made mistakes on the basketball court. He was capable of making explosive plays and is also an excellent on-ball defender. Koenig may be slightly underrated coming into the 2015-16 season with all of the talk of Melo Trimble and Yogi Ferrell, but don't sleep on the dominant Wisconsin junior.
Showalter is the type of explosive guard that is fit to have a breakout year for the Badgers. Despite averaging just 2.1 points per game during the 2014-15 season, Showalter showed impressive athletic ability in explosive plays driving to the hoop. Zak Showalter is the type of player that can spark an offense with a timely basket in a tight game. It will be interesting to see how his production changes once he's given more playing time. Showalter only played 7.6 minutes per game last season, but expect him to average closer to 35 this upcoming season.
Showalter could find himself transitioning into a starting position in Bo Ryan's lineup. Given his pure talent and experience on the court, he's likely to be a huge asset for a team that's rebuilding after a number of losses. He only turned the ball over 5 times last season, so he already seems to fit well with the efficient play of Ryan's basketball team. Look for Zak Showalter to have a big season in Madison.
Incoming freshman Brevin Pritzl should develop into a solid player right out of the gates in Madison. The Wisconsin native has good touch from long range but also knows how to put the ball on the floor and drive to the hoop. A player like Pritzl is just what head coach Bo Ryan needs to replace shooting guard Josh Gasser. Gasser was one of those "do-it-all" players for the Badgers last season, and given the potential that Pritzl brings, it seems as if he could follow in Gasser's footsteps within the next couple of seasons.
It will definitely be a year of experimentation for Bo Ryan as he looks to rebuild a program that lost a lot of players to graduation this past spring. It would not be surprising to see a freshman like Pritzl given a roll in the starting lineup. Expect the new guys to play a large roll in the Badger's 2015-16 campaign.