#9 Wisconsin Badgers vs. Central Arkansas Bears 7:00PM in Madison, Wisc.
As the Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball team gets ready to start their 2016-17 season on a newly remodeled Kohl Center floor, dawning their ‘New Red Threads’; our Inside Wisconsin’s basketball insiders begin their previews and predictions.
Ben Thorson (@benjthorson): After a 69-67 loss to Western Illinois to begin the 2015-16 season; the Badgers will look to open their 2016 campaign with a victory over Central Arkansas. This season’s Wisconsin basketball team has a different identity and bigger goals than the team that opened last year against Western Illinois; as the Badgers finished last season with their fifth Sweet 16 finish in the past 6 seasons. I predict the Badgers will overpower the Bears on both sides of the court as Central Arkansas ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Badgers will be led by a more athletic and driven Bronson Koenig who I predict finishes with a game-high 18 points; and we will get a glance at the Badgers deep bench in garbage time as Wisconsin prevails by 20-plus points.
Thorson’s Prediction: BADGERS 85 Central Arkansas 57
Caleb King (@calebking_2): “Unfinished Business”
This has been the big focus for the Badgers this offseason as they begin looking forward to a new season. For lack of a better way to say it, their exit from the NCAA Tournament last season by way of a Sweet 16 loss to Notre Dame in the closing seconds of regulation still stings, badly. Another loss from last season still stings as well, their home and season opener loss at the hands of Western Illinois the night they raised a second consecutive Final 4 banner in front of a packed Kohl Center. But so many things have changed since last season. With 99% of scoring and minutes returning, this Badgers team will have nothing but experience coming in against Central Arkansas, unlike a season ago vs Western Illinois. There’s just no way this Badgers team allows this game to get away from them in front of their home crowd in Madison, as they did last season. This team wants to prove to the nation this season that they’re for real and they have ‘unfinished business’ to take care of, and this first game is just the first step towards finishing what they’ve started. There’s no doubt that the nation has high expectations for Coach Gard’s Badgers, but these players are ready to prove they can handle the expectations and more.
My ‘Player-To-Watch’ tonight: Senior point guard Bronson Koenig. Badger fans should look for dynamic improvements in Koenig who opens the season on the Naismith Trophy Watch List. The coaching staff has said the senior has vastly improved his athleticism and dynamic of play; I’m anxious to see how big of an impact this will have on the flow of play for the Badgers in the upcoming season. Already in the Red-White scrimmage we saw a little different dynamic from Koenig, now we’ll see how it translates to an actual game against a non-conference opponent.
Welcome to another riveting season of Badger Basketball! Fasten your seat belts, these Badgers are going to take us for another heck of a ride. #OnWisconsin
King’s Prediction: BADGERS 87 Central Arkansas 55