Wisconsin Badgers Preview
Date: Thursday, February 9th - 8:00 PM CST - Pinnacle Bank Arena - Lincoln, NE
2015-16 Record: 22-13 (12-6 Big Ten)
2016-17 Record: 20-3 (9-1 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Greg Gard (2nd Year)
The Badgers of Wisconsin come into Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday with only three losses on the year and high expectations. This is a very good, senior lead team that will most likely make it fairly deep in the NCAA Tournament in March.
This season has been good to Coach Gard who is in his second year as head coach with only three losses so far. He has done well with the Badgers in his short time at the helm. This all after replacing Bo Ryan after his quick retirement early in the 2015-16 season. Early wins came for the Badgers but they were only challenged by a handful of teams.
They started the year ranked #9 in the nation before getting beat in the Gavin Tipoff to Creighton. Yes, even Wisconsin had their troubles against McDermott’s Blue Jays. Their second loss came to perennial top ten North Carolina in the Maui Invitational. Both still strong teams but gave question to Wisconsin’s ability to play at a top level.
As for major wins in the non conference, there have been a couple but not many of note. Syracuse was their one ranked win in the Big Ten/ACC Classic. They did beat Tennessee and Georgetown early on. However, both teams are having down years and do not look as good on paper as they normally would have.
Conference on the other hand has helped padded their March resume. Though, having the Big Ten struggle this year as a conference has a lot to do with that. An early win against ranked Indiana helped things out before losing to #20 Purdue on the road. Since that loss they have taken most of the conference without issues minus two overtime wins against Minnesota and Rutgers. Yep, even Wisconsin has problems with Rutgers.
The Badgers have a strong group of players this year. Ethan Happ leas the team with 14.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg, and 2.8 apg. The 6’10” forward has been dominating team under the basket on defense and also offense. He is currently shooting 65% from the floor and will give the Huskers headaches if left alone too long.
Bronson Koening is finally a senior and has been having his best season yet. The Wisconsin native is averaging 14 ppg, 2.5 rpg, and 2.2 rpg. He is agile and quick on the court and can make teams pay close to the basket.
Another senior who has done well over the years is Nigel Hayes. The 6’8” forward has been giving teams problems since his sophomore year and he hasn’t let up. Nigel is currently averaging 13.3 pgg, 6 rpg, and 3.1 apg. He has given the Huskers fits in the past and I don’t see this game being any different.
Again, this is a very good and slightly untested Wisconsin team. They will most likely start out slow before building up enough steam to take over the Huskers. Then again, Nebraska has been able to take a win or two away from them. The last being in the 2016 Big Ten tournament that had the Husker walk away with a 70 to 58 win.