When it rains, it pours — and right now it feels like a rainforest in Madison.
It was announced on Saturday that Wisconsin guards sophomore D'Mitrik Trice and freshman Kobe King will both be out indefinitely with injuries, depleting an already struggling backcourt. Shortly after that news came out, the Badgers suffered another embarrassing loss, this time by 19 points at home against Marquette. The loss dropped the Badgers to 4-7 on the season, and with a pair of crucial players sidelined it appears things have hit a season low for Wisconsin.
Trice had surgery on his right foot on Monday, and ESPN is reporting it’ll be at least two weeks before he is able to start the rehab process. There’s no exact timeline on the rehab but I would guess it’ll take at least a few more weeks. So that means we are looking at roughly seven to 10 missed games, if not more.
King was off to a good start, but will now be sidelined for the rest of the season with a left knee injury. It was announced on Monday that King had surgery and that he’ll be out for the remainder of the season.
So what does this all mean for Wisconsin? Well, it means the Badgers could be staring at their first season without the NCAA Tournament in 20 years.
Both of these guys played a role on this team, specifically in the Badgers’ backcourt. Trice was leading the team in playing time at 31.5 minutes played per game. He also was becoming more of an offensive weapon with 9.4 points and 2.3 assists per game.
As for King, he was also contributing as a true freshman. He was averaging 5.2 points per game, and was giving the Badgers 19 minutes per game off the bench. With so much gone from last year’s team, King was going to be a guy needed to provide strong minutes off the bench and he was doing that until this injury.
This season was already off to a terrible start and these two injuries only made things worse. Wisconsin has dropped four of its last five games, and in each of those they have failed to score more than 63 points. So now an already offensively challenged team will be without one of its top three leading scorers.
With these two guys out, the Badgers will be down to only three guards that have played significant minutes this year — freshman Brad Davison, junior Khalil Iverson and sophomore Brevin Pritzl. Davison is leading the group with 10.9 points per game with Iverson averaging 7.4 points and 6.7 points.
When you look at the numbers between these three guards, it’s actually not so bad. They combine for 22 starts and 24.9 points per game. That’s not terrible at all. But after that there’s no other guard who has seen the floor. So there is effectively no depth at the guard position moving forward for Wisconsin. Even when, and if, Trice returns, this won’t be a very deep area.
If Wisconsin can stay afloat while Trice is gone, and if he can get back to relatively full strength then the Badgers have a chance to achieve something. But these next few games will ultimately determine that.
They finish non-conference play with Western Kentucky, Green Bay, Chicago State and UMass Lowell — Wisconsin can’t afford to lose any of those games. After that Wisconsin reopens conference play with Indiana at home, then three straight road games: Rutgers, Nebraska and No. 17 Purdue. If Wisconsin wins at least two of those games, and Trice comes back after that then maybe, just maybe the Badgers can get back into the NCAA Tournament picture.
If they don’t achieve these few guidelines then Wisconsin fans will watch their very impressive NCAA Tournament streak come to an end at 19. How this team handles this next month without Trice will determine if the Badgers will go dancing or stay home. The Wisconsin 2017-18 season is officially on life support.