It's been a decade since Wisconsin played St. John's, an 80-70 victory in the first round of the 2002 NCAA tournament in Bo Ryan's first season. This Red Storm team could be just as talented as that squad, as St. John's returns 91.6 percent of its scoring from a squad that went 17-16 and played in the NIT.
In this new Badger Nation feature, we will look at the three keys or questions for the upcoming week's game.
Free throw: What will the rotation look like against St. Johns and the season?
Duje Dukan, George Marshall and Nigel Hayes were the first three to enter the game in the exhibition game against UW-Platteville. Those three should see time against the Red Storm and be a part of the rotation. Ryan in the past has gone eight deep, but could go nine or 10 deep this coming season depending on matchups. Vitto Brown could be used to help protect the rim but still needs to get stronger.
Bronson Koenig will be a good player for the Badgers, but it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he'll have on this year's team. In the scrimmage and against Platteville, Koenig displayed his strength of passing but appears, just like most of the freshmen, that he is still learning and becoming comfortable in Ryan's offense. His offense is coming along, but Koenig may see the floor because of his defensive game. Koenig is a solid defender and will be able to spell Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson in certain games.
Mid-range jumper: Which freshmen will see minutes against St. John's?
Hayes should see the most time out of all the freshmen due to his strength and he should provide help with the frontcourt being young. Brown and Koenig also should receive minutes; the question is how many?
Brown only played seven minutes - recording two points and two blocks against the Pioneers. He'll probably see time if the Badgers need to use him for his defense late in the game. It will be interesting to see where Koenig ranks amongst the guards. With the team being so heavy at the guard position, there may not be a lot of minutes to be had once Big Ten play starts. Koenig did receive more minutes then Marshall against the Pioneers but Ryan may feel more comfortable with Marshall at this point. Although they should be contributors down the road, it would be smart for Riley Dearring and Jordan Hill to redshirt so they can get stronger and improve their games. Aaron Moesch announced on Thursday that he'll redshirt this season.
3-pointer: How will the Badgers come out on the defensive side?
The Badgers had mental lapses against the Pioneers on the defensive side of the floor that will need to be fixed. The Red Storm returns three players who averaged double figures last season and add a variety of newcomers who can impact the game immediately. Wisconsin may turn out to be a talented team defensively, but it may take them until the Big Ten season to get things worked out.
With the Badgers losing Jared Berggren, who was consistent in protecting the rim, the question is who steps up this year for the Badgers? Frank Kaminsky may be the answer. Kaminsky had 14 blocks last season and with his height and experience, he's going to have to step up and be more physical on the low block.
Like every season, the Badgers can't allow any easy buckets and need to be able to effectively box out. If Wisconsin can box out Jakarr Sampson, who averaged 6.7 rebounds a game last season, they'll eliminate a lot of second chance opportunities.