Given his huge impact off the bench this season, Wisconsin Basketball’s Micah Potter should have been named the Big Ten 6th Man of the Year.
In a season that was filled with adversity, the Wisconsin Basketball team came together and went on what I’m sure most would consider an improbable run to the regular-season Big Ten title.
The Badgers finished the season on an eight-game winning streak that in typical Wisconsin fashion, was a total team effort. During that stretch, all of their key contributors had big moments that eventually led to the Big Ten Championship. In fact, I think that given no Badger players were named to the first or second-team All-Big Ten is a prime example of how much of a total team effort that this really was.
However, from an individual standpoint what we can’t deny is the impact that Micah Potter has had since he joined this team on December 21st against UW-Milwaukee.
As I’m sure you all remember, Potter had to sit out the first 10 games of the season after transferring from Ohio State. And during those first 10 games, we saw a Wisconsin Basketball team that struggled to find any sort of consistency and they sat at just 5-5 overall with a brutal Big Ten schedule ahead.
But for the Badgers who didn’t have much scoring off their bench before Potter’s debut and lacked size when Nate Reuvers wasn’t on the floor, the boost that Micah provided was bigger than I think anyone would have guessed. Both on the court and off, Potter gave them stability and a spark.
So when the Big Ten regular-season awards were handed out on Monday, of course, Greg Gard got the well-deserved Coach of the Year honor, but somehow, Potter was not named the 6th Man of the Year. And when comparing his stats to Aaron Wiggins of Maryland who did win the award, and is a very good player in his own right, it certainly looks like Potter was snubbed.
For one, Potter did primarily come off of the Badgers’ bench. He would average 17.5 minutes per game which was the seventh most on the team and he only had three starts. But in his limited playing time, he would still average 10.1 points per game with 6.2 total rebounds.
On top of that, there were the big individual game performances that he had. Against a then ranked Penn State team on the road, Potter would put up a career-high 24 points and just recently in back-to-back games against Rutgers and Michigan, he would score 18 points in each game. Not to mention that in his 21 games this season he would score in double figures 11 times.
Meanwhile, Wiggins would see much more consistent playing time. He started 16 games for Maryland and averaged 28.6 minutes per game which was the third-most on the team. However, despite playing on average 11 more minutes per game than Potter, Wiggins’ numbers were similar with 10.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
And if we compare Potter and Wiggins numbers per 40 minutes, it’s not even close. Potter would total 23.5 points per game with 14.2 rebounds, while Wiggins had only 14.5 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Another part of Potter’s game that stands out this year is just how efficient he was. From the line he’d make 86 percent of his free throws, he’d shoot 45.1 percent from deep, and his overall field goal percentage was at 52.8. On the flip side, Wiggins shot just 71.7 percent from the free-throw line, 31.7 percent from 3, and 37.7 percent overall.
In the end, what matters most is that the Badgers won the Big Ten Championship and have the No.1 seed heading into the Big Ten Tournament. But with that said, I think it’s very fair to say that Wisconsin wouldn’t be in this position without Micah Potter coming off the bench and it’s also fair to say that he should have been the Big Ten’s 6th Man of the Year.
All stats via College Basketball Reference