Wisconsin vs Nebraska game will be soon and some pundits had the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team finishing way down in the Big Ten conference standings. Now, it’s love for the Badgers and their Player of the Year candidate, guard Johnny Davis. Davis has led the Badgers to a 24-5 record and at least a share of the Big Ten title. In other words, pundits and sportswriters don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t think even the biggest Badger fans saw this type of season coming.
Wisconsin does have five losses, however, but not a bad one (Providence, Illinois, Michigan State, Rutgers, and Ohio State). There’s a five-game winning streak, including the completion of a season sweep of No. 8 Purdue. In other words, a lot of momentum.
Wisconsin though, actually has more home losses this year than they do on the road. Their losses to Providence, Michigan State and Rutgers all came at the Kohl Center.
Nebraska comes into Madison having won two straight games, first a 93-70 thrashing of Penn State Feb. 27th, then March 1st 78-70 upset of No. 23 Ohio State. Nebraska is led by guard Bryce McGowens, who averages 17.2 points per game. Forward Derrick Walker leads the balanced rebounding attack, pulling down six rebounds each game. Alonzo Verge Jr. is the primary ball distributor, dishing out a team-high 5.3 assists per game.
Nebraska’s season, overall, has been a disappointing one, to say the least. In fact, it’s been abysmal. Despite the recent resurgence, the Huskers still sit at just 9-21 overall.
They have non-conference losses to teams like Western Illinois (16-14, fifth in Summit League) and Kansas State (15-14, ninth in the Big 12). Nebraska was also blown out by Rutgers, Purdue and Auburn.
Let’s take a look at how likely Nebraska would be to surprise. Wisconsin has three players averaging double-digit (the aforementioned Davis averages more than 20) points per game, while Nebraska has two. As a team, Wisconsin gets 35 rebounds per game, while Nebraska averages just over 33. Nebraska actually shoots the ball more efficiently from 3-point range than Wisconsin does (32%, as opposed to Wisconsin’s 31%). The Huskers also shoot a better percentage overall.
These stats would lead any bettor to believe these teams should be more evenly matched. However, the records speak for themselves. So, where’s the big gap between a Big Ten regular-season elite team and the basement dwellers? The answer is defense. Nebraska’s opponents shoot almost 45% from the field against the Cornhuskers. Wisconsin’s opponents? They shoot 43%.
The Cornhuskers’ opponents score an average of 80 points per game. What about Wisconsin? It allows around 66 points per game. It is worth noting that opponents of Nebraska shoot better than 35% from deep.
So, who takes this game? We’d say the Badgers by a mile. Nebraska might shoot the ball well, even in the Big 10, but if Western Illinois can guard them adequately, Wisconsin can likely suffocate them. Look for Nebraska to take the shot clock down to the wire time after time and settle for contested shots, while Davis takes over for the Badgers. Take Wisconsin in this game.