Big Ten players and coaches took to Chicago last week to face the media for the first time this season and answer questions about expectations, offseason development and more. With the start of the season less than a month away, we ran through the conference to look at one major question facing all 14 teams. Previously: Part 1
Wisconsin: Can the Badgers handle expectations?
It’s no surprise that the conference’s consensus favorite has to answer the easiest question. Bo Ryan returns four of five starters and his critical reserves from last year’s Final Four team. While losing Ben Brust’s 244 3-point field goal attempts will hurt, more playing time for Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig is a good thing.
And if there’s ever a program that won’t be affected by lofty preseason expectations its Bo Ryan’s.
“Well, it really doesn’t affect when we’re doing our transition defensive drills,” Bo Ryan quipped from the podium in Chicago. “I don’t think my guys are thinking about (expectations). Our guys live in the moment, or at least we’re trying to‑‑ it appears that way. They’re trying to get better.”
People generally question a team’s ability to handle expectations when they don’t know what else to criticize them for and the Badgers fit that mantra. They have the league’s best big man, best NBA Draft prospect, an experienced point guard and all of the right role players. It’s hard to argue that the Badgers don’t have a legitimate shot of winning the league and competing for a trip back to the Final Four.