Back in October, the Wisconsin Badgers‘ athletic director, Chris McIntosh, made a statement by firing head football coach Paul Chryst during a rocky start to the season. That firing made a statement that UW would no longer settle for “average” and coaches would either be competing at the highest level or replaced. But is Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard doing a good enough job?
Gard may have won coach of the year in the Big Ten last year, but Wisconsin has been sliding since the end of that 2021-22 season. After clinching a share of the Big Ten title, the Badgers blew a golden opportunity to win the outright title at home by losing to Nebraska. Then, they lost in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Badgers got an easy draw in the NCAA Tournament, with both games coming in Milwaukee. However, they struggled to beat Colgate before dropping an ugly game in the second round to Iowa State.
The Badgers had a great start to this season, climbing all the way up to #14 in the AP Polls. However, they have since lost 10 of 15 games. With McIntosh making it clear mediocrity will not be accepted, Gard is firmly on the hot seat.
Could McIntosh make a big splash at the Wisconsin basketball coach position to revamp the program in the same way the football program seemingly has? Here are some of the top candidates for the job.
Top Wisconsin Basketball Coach Candidates
Brian Dutcher (San Diego State)
For those that don’t stay up for the late-night games on the West Coast, Brian Dutcher is relatively unknown. Although he has only been a head coach at any level since 2017, he has quickly shown he can win. Dutcher was the associate head coach since 1999 and has created a solid program at San Diego State. He has won 20 or more games every year, including a 30-2 record in the 2019-20 season.
That 30-win team was one of the best in the country. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to show it on a national stage, with the NCAA Tournament being canceled that season. As far as recruiting goes, Dutcher has been credited with bringing in the “Fab Five” during his time at Michigan and Kawhi Leonard to San Diego State. The sky is the limit for Dutcher if he’s afforded Wisconsin’s status and resources.
Lamont Paris (South Carolina)
This wouldn’t be a “home run” hire like that of Luke Fickell for the football team. However, Lamont Paris is quickly becoming one of the hottest coaching prospects in the NCAA. Paris was an assistant coach at Wisconsin from 2010-17 before departing for Chattanooga. In his first season, Chattanooga struggled to get much going, as they lost six of their 15 players from the prior season due to graduation.
Paris and Chattanooga exploded in his third season and won 20 or more games in two of his last three years, including a Southern Conference title last season. Chattanooga lost by just one in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to fourth-seed Illinois. Although he has struggled in his first season at South Carolina, he has had to deal with 10 players leaving prior to this season. He’s proven he can win and recruit, and that’s exactly what the next Wisconsin basketball coach needs.
Tony Bennett (Virginia)
This hiring may seem impossible, but few thought Luke Fickell would come to Wisconsin either. Tony Bennett has plenty of ties to Wisconsin. He played college basketball at UW-Green Bay, was an assistant coach at Wisconsin from 1999-2003, and he is the son of former Wisconsin basketball coach Dick Bennett.
Tony Bennett not only brought success to Washington State, but he also turned a bad Virginia team into an ACC dynasty. Most importantly, Bennett has proven the ability to recruit and consistently produce one of the best defenses in the country. If McIntosh really wants to win and gives Bennett a blank check, it’s certainly possible that Wisconsin can land one of the biggest fish in the coaching pond.
Do you think Greg Gard should be replaced as the Wisconsin basketball coach? If so, who would you like to see replace him? Let us know in the comments below!