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BadgerNation takes a closer look at how effective Wisconsin's different lineups were in Big Ten play

As Wisconsin heads into N.C.A.A. tournament play, we look at the lineups who have been the most effective for the Badgers.

Wisconsin finished its 21 game conference slate with a record of 14-7, finishing second in the regular season and the conference tournament, and head into tonight’s N.C.A.A. tournament first round game against Virginia Tech at 25-9.

To date, the Badgers have used 205 distinct lineups (defined as the five person combination on the floor) – compared to 127 during the 2015-16 season and a mere 85 during the run to the N.C.A.A. championship game in the 14-15 season.

This uptick in lineups can be attributed a few factors: a change from coach Bo Ryan to Greg Gard, a greater use of the bench, and, especially compared to last season, several blowouts that allowed for Gard to use the bench in a wide variety of combinations. Also, the Badgers have not really developed a set rotation of bench players this season, leading Gard to mix and match more on a game-by-game basis.

First, here is a chart showing the Badgers numbers overall as a team and numbers for each player. The usual caveats about small sample sizes and not being adjusted for opponents applies here and throughout the article.

How to read the table: The Badgers have played 1,375 minutes this season, have scored 2,446 points, given up 2,088 points, have had the ball for 2,199 offensive possessions and 2,195 defensive possessions, have scored 1.11 points per possession, given up 0.95 points per possession with a difference of 0.16 points/possession.Similar data for the nonconference schedule can be found here.

There is a clear delineation in minutes played between the starters, the sixth and seventh men (D'Mitrik Trice and Khalil Iverson), the next four reserves and then the deep bench. The starters are close to or above the team efficiency marks, with many, but not all, of the reserves being below team efficiency averages.

Because of the large number of lineups, only 10 combinations have seen greater than 20 minutes of playing time together. Here are the 10 most common lineups for all the games (non-conference and conference).

While the Badgers starters and playing, the team is outscoring opponents by 42 points per 100 possessions. Wisconsin’s seven most common lineups all exceed the overall team efficiency numbers, which make sense since they are primarily starters.

Here are the most common lineups during Big Ten play. During the 21 games of Big Ten play, eight lineups reached a 20 minute threshold. 

As you can see the chart, most of the numbers have dropped since the nonconference season, although the starters are still outscoring Big Ten opponents by a remarkable 43 points per 100 possessions. It should be noted that Gard has chosen to use more three guard lineups during the conference season – including working redshirt freshman guard Brevin Pritzl into the rotation.

This season we have also tracked lineup data with the Badgers 'Big Three' of Nigel Hayes, Ethan Happ and Bronson Koenig. The following chart shows how the Badgers have done with various combinations of the big three on the floor.

Here are the same 'Big Three' numbers during just the conference portion of the schedule. As one would expect, against the tougher competition of the conference schedule, the offensive and defensive efficiency drops.

Just a note that during the 2015-16 season, the Badgers played less than 15 minutes with none of the big three on the board – they have almost quadrupled the time played this season without them – primarily in blowouts, which didn't happen last season.


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