The Swing: March 26, 2019

On this season-ending episode of The Swing, Zach and Jesse look at what went wrong against Oregon, look forward to what the future holds for Wisconsin, are joined by BadgerBlitz.com’s Jon McNamara to talk recruiting and they also answer your Twitter questions.

3:49 — Figuring out what went wrong shooting-wise in the final 12 games is key

11:47 — How will the offense look different without Ethan Happ and Khalil Iverson?

15:25 — Superlatives
1) Player most likely to take the biggest jump from this year
2) Player (not named Micah Potter) most likely to make an impact after not playing this year
3) Player most likely to fill Ethan Happ’s scoring void
4) Player most likely to fill Khalil Iverson’s defensive stopper role

23:56 — Jon McNamara interview

38:22 — Twitter questions

47:14 — Will Wisconsin basketball ever win a national title?

Badgers: Paul Chryst talks QBs, injuries, position changes and more

MADISON — Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst met with the media late Monday morning in advance of the Badgers starting spring practice on Tuesday.

Here’s what stood out during 20-minute session:

Alex Hornibrook’s departure

For the first time since quarterback Alex Hornibrook announced in early March he’d be transferring, Chryst was asked about seeing his much-maligned three-year starter leave the program.

“(We) had a number of conversations with him and his folks,” Chryst said of the process. “A lot of that I’ll just keep between us. Every guy goes through things. We certainly appreciate what he did here. He’s going to graduate with a heck of a degree and was a contributor to some really good teams and good moments. You wish him well as he goes forward.”

Hornibrook will graduate in the spring and then head to Florida State to play his final season.

Quarterback competition

Hornibrook suffered a head injury last season that caused him to miss four full games and part of another. That, combined with some inconsistent play, led to plenty of speculation about the potential for a quarterback competition in the spring. With him gone, there is no question that the job is open for the taking.

“We’ve got four quarterbacks,” Chryst said. “That’s what’s good about this time of year. They all get a chance to work and improve. Like I said earlier, (I’m) not worried about who’s starting right now. I’m worried about how can we help each guy get better.”

There is definitely a need for the quarterbacks to take a step up after a season in which they underperformed. Chryst essentially called the position out following the Pinstripe Bowl.

“There’s not one thing we did at that position that you say, ‘All right, this is how we want it to be,’” Chryst said. “There’s moments, but clearly we’ve got to get better at that position.”

Wisconsin’s four options are junior Jack Coan, redshirt sophomore Danny Vanden Boom, redshirt freshman Chase Wolf and true freshman Graham Mertz. Of those guys, only Coan and Vanden Boom have thrown a pass in college. That leaves some uncertainty at the most important position on the field, but Chryst doesn’t seem bothered by it. He won’t even be worried if he doesn’t know who his guy will be after the 15 practices.

“If you’re trying to see who’s going to be the starter out of spring, then you better give them more snaps early,” Chryst said. “You’ve got to narrow it all down quickly. We don’t have to do that right now.”

Graham Mertz putting himself in position

The quarterback competition will be fascinating to watch and a large majority of the eyes will be on Mertz. As the highest-rated quarterback recruit in school history, much is expected of him, though the spotlight won’t be new for the Kansas product.

“Their team had success in high school and he did get a lot of attention,” Chryst said. “I appreciated the way he handled all that.”

The hype and hope surrounding Mertz is nearly unprecedented in Wisconsin football history. With offers from nearly every major program in the country, fans are expecting Mertz to come in right away and start. Chryst isn’t there yet, but has been impressed with his maturity and focus to this point.

“He’s got a good talent base,” Chryst said. “The team is important to him. Those are all things you thought you saw in him, but the more you’re around, it just reinforced it. Obviously, we’re excited that he’s here.”

Whether that means he can come in and be the first true freshman quarterback at Wisconsin to start a game since 1991 remains to be seen. The fact he’s an early enrollee, though, should be to his benefit.

“I think it does help the learning (process) quite a bit (and it gives him) an opportunity to compete in the fall,” Chryst said.

No spring game

Chryst is apparently worried about false advertising when it comes to the spring game.

“I don’t really know when it stopped, but it stopped (being) a game,” Chryst said. “You want to have something where it’s open, so that’s why we’re going to hopefully have it open (on April 13). Then people don’t have to pay money for it. They just come and hopefully see it, but you’re also not misrepresenting by calling it a spring game.”

Sitting out

The Badgers lost four of their five starters along the offensive line after last season. Now, they’ll be without two of their projected starters in the spring.

Chryst said that left tackle Cole Van Lanen and center Tyler Biadasz will both be held out from practice, as will outside linebacker Christian Bell. He was injured during bowl prep in December.

Several guys will also be limited in the spring, including defensive end Garrett Rand and running back Bradrick Shaw.

Rand missed all of last year following an achilles injury in June.

“He’s one that you’re kind of curious [about],” Chryst said. “He’s a guy that’s played good football and then missed a whole year. He’s a good player, and I think he can add a lot to us.”

Shaw also missed all of last year after getting hurt in the 2017 season finale at Minnesota.

Position changes

Spring nearly always brings position changes with it and this year was no different. Chryst referenced several players, including Isaac Guerendo moving from wide receiver to running backs, Seth Currens going from safety to inside linebacker and Griffin Grady from inside linebacker to outside.

The Camp: March 25, 2019

A special spring practice preview edition of “The Camp.” Zach is joined by The Athletic’s Jesse Temple to breakdown the Badgers in advance of the first practice.

1:30 — Is this the most important spring of Paul Chryst’s tenure?

8:08 — What kept Wisconsin from challenging for the Big Ten West last year?

10:17 — Sold or not sold: Offense
1) Wisconsin will miss QB Alex Hornibrook.
2) Jonathan Taylor is already the best RB to play at Wisconsin.
3) Wisconsin’s offensive line will be just as good as last years.
4) Jake Ferguson is Wisconsin’s best option through the air.

27:54 — Fill in the blank: Defense
1) I’m expecting to see ______ having made the biggest jump from last season to now.
2) _______ is the person key to rebounding from an up and down season.
3) Wisconsin’s biggest question on defense is _______.
4) Jim Leonhard is a ________ defensive coordinator.

42:02 — Expectations for the early enrollees, including Graham Mertz.

51:35 — Putting Jesse on the spot — Who starts at QB vs South Florida in the season opener?

Wisconsin women’s hockey wins 5th national title

The Wisconsin women’s hockey team can once again be called national champions.

The Badgers earned their fifth title Sunday afternoon in Hamden, Conn., by beating rival Minnesota 2-0 in the championship of the Frozen Four.

Wisconsin earned its first title since 2011 thanks to a first-period goal from senior Sophia Shaver and a second-period short-handed goal from senior Annie Pankowski.

Junior goaltender Kristen Campbell had 27 saves and was part of a Badgers’ defense that didn’t allow a single goal in three NCAA tournament games. They outscored the opposition 11-0 on their way to winning the hardware.

The Frozen Four games served as a measure of revenge for Wisconsin. In the semifinal, the Badgers beat Clarkson, which had taken them out in the 2017 final. Then, they stopped Minnesota, which had beaten them in the 2012 title game.

It’s coach Mark Johnson’s fifth title, tying Shannon Miller of Minnesota-Duluth for the most in NCAA history.

(12) Oregon 72, (5) Wisconsin 54: Last word

SAN JOSE, Calif. — 12th-seeded Oregon exploded in the second half to turn a close game into a 72-54 victory and end fifth-seeded Wisconsin’s season on Friday night.

Player of the Game: Payton Pritchard

Wisconsin recruited the junior point guard hard when he was coming out of high school and everyone saw why. Pritchard routinely broke down the Badgers’ defense and either finished at the rim or found one of his teammates for an easy basket. He finished with a team-high 19 points, including 12 in the first half, while also handing out eight assists and picking up a pair of steals. Yes, he did turn the ball over seven times, but his ability to routinely get inside is something Wisconsin had few answers for.

The good: Khalil Iverson

The senior was once again pretty effective offensively, tying Ethan Happ for a team-high 12 points. His late dunk in the first half allowed Wisconsin to go into the break tied at 25 and then he came out and hit a 3-pointer early in the second half. For most, that wouldn’t be big news, but it was Iverson’s first bucket from beyond the arc since January of 2017. He had missed his last 31 shots from deep coming in. Iverson finished his career scoring in double figures in seven of his final nine games.

The not so good: The shooting

Wisconsin was a good shooting team for the first 22 games of the season, hitting 40.3-percent from deep. The Badgers were an abysmal shooting team for the final 12 games, knocking down 27.7-percent of their 3-pointers. That included Friday, when Wisconsin shot a miserable 6-for-30 from beyond the arc. Perhaps the most irritating thing for the Badgers was that many of them were wide open looks.

It led to a 33.3-percent shooting night overall, the Badgers worst effort in an NCAA tournament game since making just 32.1-percent in a win vs Pittsburgh in 2016.

Stat of the game: 4

That’s how many blocked shots Oregon’s Kenny Wooten had, though it certainly felt like more. It included two on Nate Reuvers on one possession with the Ducks’ lead sitting at 10 and Wisconsin desperate for a basket with about four minutes left.

What they said:

Brad Davison on the emotion of it being Ethan Happ and the rest of the seniors last game:

“Dating back to last year, one of the reasons he came back was to get back to this tournament and make a run. We were all in that together. I feel like we let him down in a lot of senses, because we didn’t perform our best. That’s when you have regrets. When you don’t play your best. We left it all on the floor but we just couldn’t get over that hump. It hurts a lot. Not just Ethan, but the rest of the seniors, (too).”

In Case You Missed It:

— The game was the first NCAA tournament action for Reuvers, Brad Davison, Kobe King, Aleem Ford and Walt McGrory.

— Wisconsin failed to win at least one game in the NCAA tournament for just the fourth time in its last 19 appearances.

— Wisconsin lost its final two games by double digits — the only times all year the Badgers were beat by more than 10 points.

— Among the former Badgers in the crowd was forward Duje Dukan.

— Happ finished his career among the all-time leaders in nearly every statistical category at UW: 2,130 points (3rd), 1,217 rebounds (1st), 423 assists (3rd), 217 steals (2nd) and 154 blocks (1st).

What’s next?

Wisconsin’s season is over at 23-11.

Wisconsin ready to face a tall challenge with Oregon

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Kenny Wooten. Paul White. Louis King. Francis Okoro.

Those names make up four-fifths of the Oregon starting lineup and all four are listed at 6-foot-9. This wasn’t what coach Dana Altman had planned at the beginning of the season or even during his club’s struggles during year. But a poor effort led to an angry coach and a change late in the season.

“Well, it was an accident,” Altman said Thursday. “We were at USC. We played a really bad ball game. We were in the locker room afterwards, and I lost my composure a little bit. And the one guy in the locker room, who at that time was by far the most unselfish, all about the team, was Francis Okoro.

“And like I said, I was upset with them, and I just said, ‘I don’t know who’s starting against UCLA on Saturday night except for him. And we’ll practice tomorrow and four other guys will distinguish themselves, but he’s starting because he’s all about the team and he’s trying to lead.’

“I wish I could say it was planned and something that was well thought out, but it was an accident. But it’s worked out.”

Oregon lost the first game after the change, but has won eight-straight since then. The 12th-seeded Ducks will try to keep it going on Friday when they face fifth-seeded Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers, as you’d expect, are well aware of the challenges they’ll face with such a big lineup.

The Swing: March 20, 2019

On this week’s episode of “The Swing,” Zach and Jesse look at Wisconsin’s matchup with Oregon, discuss whether the Badgers can snap out of their cold streak from beyond the arc, recap their season predictions and answer your Twitter questions.

2:22 — Wisconsin is shooting just 28.7-percent on 3-pointers in its last 11 games

8:06 — Fact or Fiction
1) People are giving Oregon too much credit for its eight-game winning streak.
2) D’Mitrik Trice will finish the season shooting 40-percent or better from 3.
3) I’m confident the Badgers will be playing on Sunday.
4) The Big Ten will get at least one team into the Final Four.

24:21 — What team should the Badgers want to see in the second round — Kansas State or UC-Irvine?

32:26 — Twitter questions

Badgers: Learning about Oregon

Wisconsin will face Oregon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. It will be the third game between the two schools in the Big Dance since 2014. But that familiarity means little as both teams are much different than the last times they matched up.

In an effort to learn about the Ducks, we caught up with Wisconsin assistant coach Howard Moore after Monday’s practice in Madison. Moore is responsible for scouting Oregon, a team that comes in on an eight-game winning streak, including four victories in four days at the Pac-12 tournament last weekend.

Though a 12-seed that had to win its conference tournament just to get into the NCAA Tournament, Oregon could provide some challenges for the Badgers. That’s especially true on the defensive end, where Ducks rank among the best in the country over the last month.

In the interview, we asked Moore what he’s seen on film from the Ducks, how Wisconsin will deal with facing four starters that stand 6-foot-9, what’s changed for the better in Oregon’s winning streak and more.

Badgers back in the NCAA tournament, will face Oregon in first round

After missing the NCAA tournament last year for the first time since 1998, Wisconsin is back in and the Badgers will head West to open up play.

The NCAA revealed the 68 teams in the bracket on Sunday with coach Greg Gard’s squad getting the No. 5 seed in the South Region. They’ll take on the No. 12 seed Oregon on Friday in San Jose. It will be the second game of the day, so tip is scheduled for around 3:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on TBS.

It’ll be the third matchup between the two schools in the Big Dance, with Wisconsin winning the first two in 2014 and 2015.

Oregon only got into the tournament by winning the Pac-12 tournament, whipping top-seeded Washington 68-48. The Ducks finished the year 23-12 in what many felt was a weak conference. But they did finish the season winning eight straight, including six by double digits.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, closed the year at 23-10 and was fourth in the Big Ten, which ended up getting eight teams in the bracket. The Badgers are 12-4 since the middle of January, with three of those losses coming to Michigan and Michigan State, which will both be No. 2 seeds in the tournament.

Tip times will be set later Sunday night.

Hear what Gard, along with Ethan Happ, D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison, had to say about playing in the tournament, their opponent and how deep of a run they think they can make.

You can find the complete bracket here.

(1) Michigan State 67, (4) Wisconsin 55: Last word

CHICAGO — Top-seeded Michigan State jumped out to a 17-point first half lead and fourth-seeded Wisconsin could never fully recover in a 67-55 loss in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament Saturday afternoon.

Player of the Game: Cassius Winston

He may not be 100-percent healthy, but the Big Ten Player of the Year was outstanding once again. He scored a game-high 21 points in just 28 minutes of action. But it wasn’t just his scoring. It was also the attention he required. With all eyes on him, forward Kenny Goins got free early for several open 3-pointers that he was able to knock down and help the Spartans build their lead.

The good: The fight

As they’ve done many times this year, the Badgers fell behind early. And like they’ve done many times this year, they fought back to make a game of it. It was 27-10 with 7:42 left in the first half, but the lead was down to eight by the break. Wisconsin twice had it down to six in the second half before a nearly seven-minute scoring drought crushed their chances to complete the comeback.

The not so good: The shooting

Inside and outside, Wisconsin was largely dreadful shooting the ball. The Badgers were just 20 of 40 in the lane and a putrid 2-for-19 from beyond the arc. The 35.8-percent shooting from the floor was their second-worst effort this season and the 10.5-percent shooting from 3 was their worst this year. The starting guard duo of D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison combined to go 1-for-11 from the outside.

Stat of the game: 13

That’s how many points redshirt freshman Kobe King had. The guard attacked Michigan State and had the Spartans on their heels in the first half. The 13 points were the most for him since a season-high 14 against Oklahoma back on Nov. 22.

What they said:

Ethan Happ on the fight to get the game close after falling behind by 17 and what it means moving forward.

“I felt like we were going to carry that momentum and storm back and take the lead. Someone asked me before what makes a good tournament team and that’s kind of it. That mentality that we’re not out until the game is over. We might be up by 20, but we still have to play through the whole thing. Or we’ll be down by 20. Just that never give up mentality is what makes a really good tournament team.”

In Case You Missed It:

| The 12-point loss was Wisconsin’s first by double digits this year.

— Wisconsin fell to Michigan State for a seventh-straight time. The Badgers haven’t beaten the Spartans since Happ’s redshirt freshman year.

— Wisconsin sophomore Nate Reuvers was held scoreless for just the third time this season. The forward was 0-for-7 from the field.

— Happ has played eight games against Michigan State and has scored at least 20 points in four of them.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (23-10, 14-6) will find out Sunday night who and where they’ll play in next week’s NCAA tournament.