The final day of college basketball’s regular season could not have gone much worse for the Wisconsin Badgers as they look to regroup and get ready for the B1G Tournament.

Wisconsin had a chance at winning the conference’s regular season title outright with a win, but the Badgers lost at home to a bad Nebraska team with its top player. Wisconsin finished the season with a tie at the top of the B1G with Illinois, which claimed a share of the title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win over Iowa on Sunday night.

For as brutal as the day was for the Badgers, by far the most important development looking ahead to the rest of their season is the health of their star sophomore Johnny Davis. He went down early in the 2nd half with a lower body injury, limped to the locker room and never returned, making the outcome against Nebraska a secondary storyline.

While Sunday’s loss was certainly disappointing, the Badgers far exceeded everybody’s expectation as they finished the regular season with a 24-6 overall record including 15-5 in B1G play. They landed a No. 2 seed in the B1G Tournament and will play the winner of Michigan State vs. Maryland in the quarterfinal round on Friday night.

Wisconsin will need to regroup quickly, and here’s a look at 5 things they need to win a B1G Tournament championship.

A healthy Johnny Davis

Early reports have said Davis’ injury is to his ankle, but it remains unclear how healthy he will be for the B1G Tournament and if he will suit up at all. After the game, head coach Greg Gard said he’s optimistic on Davis’ availability for the conference tournament, and teammate Brad Davison said, “Not much, but he’s good” when asked if he talked to Davis after the game.

Those two quotes are just about all we have to go on at this point, but the Badgers need Davis on the floor for a shot at winning the B1G Tournament. Without him, it’s hard to see the Badgers winning three games in three days over quality B1G opponents and hang another banner.

Wisconsin still has plenty to play for heading into Selection Sunday with seeding and the potential of playing the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee.

Remain tough in tight games

The toughness we’ve seen from Wisconsin all season long is a major reason for how good its record is through 30 games. In the analytics era, I’m sure there’s something out there that tracks 50/50 balls, but the Badgers seem to turn those into 80/20 balls as they retain and steal a ton of possessions in those scenarios, which has been crucial considering how many close games they’ve been in.

For a team replacing so many seniors from last season’s roster, the Badgers do not panic late in games. Despite a one-point loss against Nebraska, Wisconsin ended the regular season 15-2 in games decided by 6 points or less. Maybe a team that’s being considered as a potential No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament should not be in so many close games, but Wisconsin has shown it knows how to win.

Get hot from 3

This will be especially important if Davis is unavailable. If he’s not healthy enough to suit up and the Badgers are missing 3-pointers at the rate they currently are, Wisconsin could very well have a short stay in Indianapolis. The Badgers are dead last in 3-point shooting percentage at 31.3%, and they will need to shoot much better than that during the B1G Tournament.

Wisconsin’s top threat from long range is Davison, the program’s all-time leading 3-point shooter. who’s hitting 34.7% of deep balls this season. If Davis is fine, the Badgers’ poor shooting isn’t as big of an issue. If he’s out, the 3-point shooting of Davison will have a significant impact on how far Wisconsin can go in the conference tournament.

Chucky Hepburn improved in just about every area over the course of his true freshman season including 3-pointers, and he knocked down 41.5% of shots from long range over the final 12 games, so his jumper would be relied upon more as well.

Find production from the other guys

Wisconsin has gotten away with not getting much production from its bench players all season long. The Badgers have been fortunate to stay healthy most of the season, which is fortunate because without their usual starting 5, it’s been ugly in a 3-game sample size. Wisconsin did not have Davis available in a 5-point loss to Providence and barely survived a game against Nicholls without him. Tyler Wahl missed 1 game, and it resulted in a 12-point home loss to Michigan State.

Lorne Bowman is the leading scorer off the bench with 3 points per game, but he hasn’t played since February 15th for what’s been called a non-COVID illness. Chris Vogt provides quality minutes whenever Steven Crowl needs to come out, but the Badgers need somebody else to step up and play a huge role especially if Davis misses games. The top candidates are Jahcobi Neath, Ben Carlson and Jordan Davis, but all average less than 2 points per game.

Return to Badger ball

Just about everything mentioned above comes down to whether Davis is available when determining how important they are to for the Badgers’ chances to come away with a B1G Tournament title. This point is written completely on the assumption that he is out. If Davis is ruled out for this event, Wisconsin needs to go back to its style of basketball that plenty of fans and media love to hate.

Currently, the Badgers rank No. 267 out of 358 Division 1 teams in possessions per game, which is about as fast as Wisconsin’s offense can operate. The last time it ranked higher in that category was during the 2005-06 season, and it’s been outside the top 300 for 14 years in a row until this season.

Wisconsin had the best player on the floor whenever Davis was in the game this season and without him, the Badgers will need to limit the number of possessions on both ends of the floor by using more of the shot clock and locking down defensively to give themselves the best chance at a B1G Tournament run.