Badgers on pace to do something unprecedented in the Bo Ryan era

The talent drain may be too much for Bo Ryan to overcome this season.
The talent drain may be too much for Bo Ryan to overcome this season. (USATSI)

Bo Ryan has for a long time consistently been one of college basketball’s top coaches. Proof of that is how he was nominated for induction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame earlier this year before guiding Wisconsin to its second consecutive Final Four.

Make no mistake, the guy’s still got it.

But he no longer has them.

And that’s a problem.

Wisconsin lost 65-48 at Oklahoma on Sunday afternoon in a game that was never really close. It was the Badgers’ third loss of this season, their second by double-digits. If you’re wondering, they didn’t take their third loss last season until Feb. 24, and they only lost by double-digits once while marching to the title game of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

In other words, things have changed.

And the main thing, obviously, is that roster.

Great as Bo Ryan is, even he isn’t immune to struggles when five of his top seven scorers — specifically three NBA players (Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Duje Dukan) and two senior guards (Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser) — exit simultaneously and aren’t replaced with impactful freshmen and/or transfers. So though it would be silly to bury anybody’s season in November, it does seem unlikely, based on the roster in place combined with early results, that Wisconsin will extend its streak of 14 straight top-four finishes in the Big Ten. And, frankly, I’m not confident a spot in the Field of 68 is in the Badgers’ future, either.

As always, we’ll see.

Either way, for what it’s worth, KenPom is now projecting Wisconsin to finish 18-13 overall, 9-9 in the Big Ten. And the last time Bo Ryan lost nine Big Ten games was … never.

It’s literally never happened.

But it could happen this season.

Because you-know-who isn’t walking through that you-know-what.

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