Disclaimer: This article has been written and submitted by Robaue17, who will help cover Badgers basketball.
This is the second meeting for these teams, with Wisconsin taking the first matchup on January 6th by a score of 88-72. With both teams being ranked in the top five in the Big Ten standings, this is yet another important game for the Badgers.
Coming off a comfortable win against Michigan State, the Badgers appear to be in a strong position as we approach the Big Ten Tournament. On the flip side, Nebraska likely views this as a perfect game to boost their resumé as they push for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Why Wisconsin should win this game
As it is in most games, the experience on this team is their biggest advantage. With guys like Chucky Hepburn, Tyler Wahl, and Steven Crowl who have played together for years, it’s tough for most teams to compete with that.
And when you insert a dynamic scorer like AJ Storr, a feisty freshman in John Blackwell, and Mr. Clutch himself in Max Klesmit, you now have a deep lineup capable of adjusting to the squad they face.
This lineup is deep enough that it can recover from players having an off night. We’ve seen every game that one or two guys step up, which shows me that this is truly a team that can make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Speaking of Max Klesmit…since Big Ten play started, he has averaged just over 14 points while shooting 52.7 percent on three-pointers. He has consistently shown in that time that he is capable of picking the team up and putting it on his shoulders. If he can play tonight the way he played against Indiana or Northwestern we’ll be looking at another tick in the win column.
Why Nebraska should win this game
Nebraska plays good, clean basketball. They currently rank fifth in scoring at 77.2 points, sixth in assists with 15.9, and third in fouls at 14.9 per game.
They have strong play from a number of players, including 6’10 forward Reink Mast. Mast is second on the team in scoring, first in rebounds, and first in assists. Having a post player who is capable of producing like this opens up the offense (watch Ethan Happ highlights for proof).
This high-octane offense has allowed Nebraska to keep up with some very strong teams, including a win earlier this year against Purdue (currently ranked No. 2 in the country).
X-Factor: Post Play
This game is between two teams that feature strong, veteran post players. Both teams rely on their bigs to anchor the defense and open up the offense. Nebraska is a much better rebounding team than Wisconsin (39.0 per game to 34.0), but also gives up more rebounds (36.4 to 28.5).
The matchup between Crowl and Mast will certainly be one to watch. I expect that their matchup will be the most influential in this game.
Final Prediction: 77-68 Wisconsin