Arlington, TX (WQOW) -- The sting of Saturday's Final Four loss is still fresh, but it's already time to move forward for the Wisconsin basketball program.
Wisconsin will not play for the national championship Monday night but going forward, the Badgers will be in the national conversation. Many analysts expect to see Wisconsin near the top when the 2014-15 preseason rankings come out.
"I think they'll be somewhere in the top five or top ten, somewhere in there. They only lose Ben Brust in terms of a key contributor. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson, Nigel Hayes are all going to be back. I think they're going to end up being the preseason favorite in the Big Ten," says ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz.
Both Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker have said they'll be back next season. That means Wisconsin will return eight of the nine players who saw action in Saturday's loss to Kentucky. It figures to be a very motivated group heading into the offseason.
"We know we have a lot of work to do. All we have to do is put in the time and we'll definitely get better, the whole team will get better," says freshman forward Nigel Hayes.
Junior forward Duje Dukan adds: "It's huge. This is the first time all of us have gotten a sniff of the Final Four. It's obviously exciting when you have a lot of guys coming back for the future."
"Our goal was to win a national championship and we were so close. I thought we deserved to win that game," says freshman guard Bronson Koenig. "I feel like everyone in this locker room feels like we deserved to win this game, and that'll just bring us more motivation for next year to get back."
Wisconsin will need to replace three seniors, all of whom brought a great work ethic and strong leadership to the program.
"You know, I just wish great things for these guys, always and forever, no matter what they do. Next season -- the future of this program, it's got a great upside and there's more that can be accomplished for this group."
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