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3 keys and a prediction for Nebraska basketball vs. Wisconsin



Nebraska basketball
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

A huge test awaits for Nebraska basketball on Saturday and here are three keys plus a prediction for the Huskers vs. Wisconsin.

Talking about quad-1 wins, Nebraska basketball can easily get its most impressive of the season on Saturday against the Wisconsin Badgers.

Nebraska has beaten Kansas State on the road and Michigan State at home. Those were big wins, but beating Wisconsin, in Madison, would be an even better feat, at least as far as the NCAA tournament is concerned.

Wisconsin is 10-3, ranked No. 21 in the AP poll, and is sitting at 2-0 in the Big Ten. Nebraska basketball is 12-2, as well as 2-1 in the Big Ten. Winning in Madison would send a signal to the rest of the league that the Huskers are Big Ten contenders.

With that in mind, here are three keys and a prediction for Nebraska baskeball vs. Wisconsin.

Stay hot from 3-point range

Nebraska basketball ranks 61st in college basketball with 9.1 3-point makes per game. The Huskers have also upped their 3-point percentage from 33 percent to 37 percent in Big Ten play.

Nebraska had a big advantage over Indiana and that’s going to be key on Saturday. Wisconsin only makes six 3-pointers per game, plus the Badgers rank 266th in 3-point defense. It’s something Nebraska should be able to take advantage of and they’ll need to if they are going to pull the upset.

Offensive execution

Fred Hoiberg is a great basketball mind and he’s one of the best offensive head coaches in the Big Ten. Facing a defense that allows just 0.98 points per possession, the Huskers are going to have to execute well. Wisconsin is puzzling because their 2-point percentage defense also ranks outside the top 200.

But the Badgers rarely foul. They are also a good rebounding team — some of their numbers get skewed due to their slow pace which ranks 314th in college basketball according to Kenpom. The Badgers are also ranked as the 13th-best team in the Kenpom rankings with the 29th adjusted defense and the No. 14 adjusted offense.

Wisconsin rarely turns the ball over, which will be something Nebraska has to mimic. The Huskers also need to get the ball inside and be patient enough to run their offensive sets, which have been good of late.

To beat Wisconsin, you have to execute in the half court and we’ll see if the Huskers are up to the challenge.

Don’t lose extra possession battles

Wisconsin is always solid and the Badgers just don’t beat themselves. They turn the ball over less than their opponents, they foul less than their opponents and they usually get more rebounds. Wisconsin is always good at getting offensive rebounds and kicking those out for 3-point attempts.

This team is particularly good at getting to the foul line. But so was Indiana. Nebraska played good defense without fouling. That will need to happen again on Saturday. This Wisconsin team is too good to give it extra possessions due to turnovers and offensive rebounds. The Huskers also can’t afford to let Wisconsin have a big edge at the free-throw line.

Free throws aren’t sexy, but they decide a lot of games, and getting to the line or rather keeping Wisconsin off the charity stripe is another key for Nebraska basketball.

Prediction: Nebraska at Wisconsin (-6.5) 1:15 CST on BTN

Winning in Madison is a big ask. This Nebraska team can do it though. The key is going to be the 3-point shooting. If Keisei Tominaga, C.J. Wilcher, Juwan Gary, and Brice Williams shoot the ball well, I think Nebraska defends well enough to win. That’s a big if though and I think Wisconsin pulls out a close.

Wisconsin 69, Nebraska 65

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Chris has worked in sports journalism since 2005 writing for multiple newspapers and websites such as the Bleacher Report and Fansided before starting Husker Big Red, A fan site for hardcore followers of the #Huskers offering articles, podcasts, videos and more exclusive content on all things Nebraska