Can Wisconsin Compete for National Championship in 2014?

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers are off to their best start in over a century after improving their record to 13-0 against Prairie View on Saturday. Their 80-43 victory was the Badgers’ biggest margin of victory of the season. Wisconsin struggled mightily from three-point range for the majority of the game, but back-to-back three-pointers at the end of regulation made Wisconsin’s outside shooting look somewhat more respectable.

Wisconsin has relied heavily on their three-point shot and the half court set in years past, but this isn’t your mother’s Wisconsin Badgers team. Wisconsin has the ability to get out and run, and capitalized on nearly all of Prairie View’s 13 turnovers. Wisconsin had an all-time school low two turnovers on the afternoon. Wisconsin finished their non-conference slate unblemished, and are one of the more revered schools in the Big 10 Conference.

There are two glaring questions that only time will answer about the Wisconsin Badgers. The first of these two questions is whether Wisconsin is a favorite to win the National Championship this season. History states that the answer is no. Wisconsin has not sniffed the Final Four in head coach Bo Ryan‘s long-standing tenure with the team. The Big 1o has not taken home the national championship since the Michigan State Spartans did so in 2000.

The other question is whether Sam Dekker is the best player in the country. Dekker has forced himself into the conversation, and will likely be in competition with Ohio State Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft to be the Big 10 Player of the Year. In his sophomore season, Dekker has proven that he is more than a perimeter shooter. Dekker notched his third double-double of the season Saturday with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Time will tell whether or not the Badgers are ready to be a national championship contender, but they are off to a good start.

Jack Dooley is a Big 12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JackDooleyOCS.

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