Date: Tuesday, January 9th
Time: 7:30 pm CST
Location: Lincoln, NE
Coach: Greg Gard (3rd Season)
2016-17 Record: 27-10 (12-6 Big Ten Conference)
2017-18 Record: 9-8 (2-2 Big Ten Conference)
The Badgers had a very good season last year. They succeeded with a veteran team in a year were a majority of the conference was young and it benefited them throughout the season.
The ended the regular season in second place behind Purdue and made it all the way to the championship game in the Big Ten Tournament. There they lost to Michigan 71-56 in a game where the score was larger than what was left on the court.
They then made the NCAA tournament with an at large bid. Their number 8 ranking in the east regional matched them up with Virginia Tech in the first round. Their somewhat easy defeat of the Hokies matched them up with #1 ranked Villanova, the previous season’s NCAA Champion. However, this was not to be ‘Nova’s season. Wisconsin beat Wildcats in a close 65-62 upset which sent them to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Badgers finally met their match against the 4th seeded Florida in a 84-83 overtime loss. A tough win to end their season but a good run none the less for the team.
Wisconsin lost a lot of talent from last year. As I stated above, the Badgers were a senior heavy team. Gone this year are the likes of forward Nigel Hayes and guard Bronson Koenig.
Also out for the Badgers are guards D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King. Both major contributors to the squad are out and the Badgers have had a hard time adjusting. Trice is out and has had surgery on his left knee and King is still out with a right foot injury. It required surgery but he is expected back at some point this season.
With their absence has been somewhat of a hole in the team. They are currently 9-8 on the season. Four of those eight losses were to ranked teams. Many of those losses were within Wisconsin’s reach of closing out. Proving that the Badgers do have trouble closing out games. Something the Huskers could use to their advantage.
Leading the team is junior Ethan Happ. The 6’10” forward is leading the team with 16.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg, and 3.5 apg. He is easily the top target for the team and has felt the pressure all season. Many teams have shut Wisconsin down by double teaming Happ on defense and eliminating a major scoring threat for the Badgers. He is good but the inexperience on the team leaves him vulnerable at times.
Freshman guard Brad Davison is another to keep an eye out for. He is averaging 11.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg, and 2.2 apg. While he is a talent Brad is still young and a little raw and has been shut down in games. Expect Nebraska to pressure him hard and try to create turnovers. Rutgers alone pull off 5 from him in their upset of Wisconsin last Friday.
Wisconsin isn’t just struggling to win, they’re losing also in the stats. They are currently dead last in the Big Ten in scoring offense and offensive rebounding. While Wisconsin has never been known as a major offensive threat this is hurting them considerably as the season has gone on. They can’t score or pull down the rebounds from those missed shots. Defensively they are still leading the conference in rebounds but that does little good if you’re scorers are not making their shots and the opposing team is making theirs.
The Huskers come back to town after a tough but well played game against Purdue. They are battle tested and hungry to get back to their winning ways. At home, they are 8-1.
I see Wisconsin putting up a heck of a fight but not enough to take a win away from Nebraska. Without Trice and King they will suffer. If the Badgers get up early, don’t sweat it. The Huskers will have the talent and bench to pull off this win.
University of Nebraska 83 University of Wisconsin 75