ESPN’s Eamon Brennan released his annual “Revised Way Too Early Top 25” college basketball rankings. The 2014-15 Wisconsin team that reached the National Championship was ranked 4th in the “Way Too Early” rankings, and that team lived up to those expectations. After falling in last year’s list, the Badgers return to the top ten and have high expectations.
The original rankings came out in April, but a lot happens in college basketball between April and the end of May. After all the dust has settled from transfers, coaching changes, finalized recruits and draft decisions, Brennan has the Badgers ranked 8th.
It’s not exactly a surprise that the Badgers have lofty expectations. After the Sweet Sixteen berth for the Badgers, the only question mark that the Badgers had left was the possible departure of Nigel Hayes to the NBA. After announcing he would be back for his senior season last week, the Badgers are returning every key member from last season.
In the original “Way Too Early Top 25”, Brennan had the Badgers ranked 9th, as he stated everyone would be back and Hayes was unlikely to leave. However, with Hayes playing out the whole process and taking up until the last day to make his decision, Badger fans were surely getting anxious about what Hayes’s decision would be. Now that Hayes is surely in the mix, the Badgers jumped up one spot, with Indiana dropping from 8 to 11.
Not only are the Badgers returning every key rotation player, the roster is also getting a boost from recruiting and current players on the rosters becoming available.
In April, 4-star D’Mitrik Trice and 3-star Aleem Ford committed to Wisconsin. Although Ford is going to be buried behind Vitto Brown, Ethan Happ, Alex Illikanien and Charlie Thomas (resulting in a likely redshirt scenario), Trice is going to have an opportunity to solidify the backup point guard position behind Bronson Koenig. That void was one of the roster’s biggest weaknesses last season.
Last year’s roster also saw two talented freshman not suit up for the Badgers in the form of Brevin Pritzl and Andy Van Vilet. Pritzl, who was sidelined by an injury all season, may be the Badgers most dangerous offensive weapon off the bench in next season’s campaign. Van Vilet, who was ruled ineligible by the NCAA last season, brings more versatility to the jam packed front court.
Other Big Ten teams on the list include Michigan State (10), Indiana (11), Purdue (14) and Maryland (18).