Wisconsin Badgers Preview
Date: Tuesday, January 29th
Location: Lincoln, NE
Time: 7:00pm CST
2017-18 Record: 15-18 (7-11 Big Ten Conference
2018-19 Record: 14-6 (6-3 Big Ten Conference)
Coach: Greg Gard (4th Season)
The Badgers had a down year in coach Gard’s 3rd season piloting this team. But, you’re bound to have a little transition when you lose a senior laden class with guys like Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, and Vitto Brown leaving the lineup.
They ended the year in 9th place in the conference yet beat Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament before losing to Michigan State. This was the first year since 1998 that the Badgers did not make the NCAA Tournament.
Let that sink in. 19 out of 20 years to the NCAA Tournament. Before that, little to nothing in their history. Programs can be turned around folks, any program.
Sorry, I trailed off there for a second. On to the game at hand.
The Badgers seems to be back on the right path in 2018-19. They started off the season unranked but have bounced in and out of the top 25. Rising as high as #12 and are currently #23 in the Coaches Poll and #24 in the Associated Press. They’re a strong defensive team and are currently ranked #8 in defensive efficiency by Kenpom.
Wisconsin is lead by First Team All Big Ten player Ethan Happ. It seems like he has been at Wisconsin for a decade now as we talk about him every year. Lucky for us this is his last year as a Badger. The 6’10” forward is averaging 18.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. Huge numbers all around for a guy who spends most of his time in the paint.
Happ big, athletic, and dominates the court. He will give Nebraska all the problems in the world under the basket and will need to be guarded close throughout the game. With Issac Copeland Jr. out it will be up to Tanner Borchardt to help out Isaiah Roby when he can.
D’Mitrik Trice is another name to watch out for on Tuesday. The sophomore guard has improved his game from last season and is averaging 14.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. He may be small in stature at 6’0” but makes up for it in his athleticism and ball handling. With that said, D’Mitrik should match up well with our guards.
Also of note is Brad Davison. Another sophomore guard who has earned his playing time this season. Brad is averaging 10.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Another player who can’t be left alone and will open up plays for others on his team.
Wisconsin is a slow, methodical, and even balanced team. They’re not going to jump out and throw the basketball down Nebraska’s throat. Most of their games are low scoring which could bode well for Nebraska. This would give the Huskers enough time to keep their composure as the game moves on.
In any other scenario I would say the Huskers have a fairly good chance of beating Wisconsin. They’re good but not great. Their play revolves around Ethan Happ and if he can be shut down then the Badgers will suffer. Tanner Borchardt has been a nice surprise in the paint for Nebraska this year. The kid from Gothenburg will have to step his game up though to replace Issac Copeland on the court. It will be a tough and hard fought match in the paint between those two. If Borchardt stands his ground then Nebraska’s chances will be good.
However, Nebraska’s play as a whole these past few games has not been overly inspiring. If the Huskers come out flat again I can see Wisconsin pulling off another low scoring victory and the heat will intensify under Pinnacle Bank Arena.
This year is not going to get any easier and this is just one of the many tough games on Nebraska’s calendar to finish the season. I think it will be close enough to sucker punch the team one more time.
Issues are not easily fixed over night. Wisconsin pulls it off in Lincoln.
University of Wisconsin 57 University of Nebraska 52