The Matchup: Wisconsin (14-9, 6-4 B1G) vs. Nebraska (13-11, 5-6 B1G)
When: Wed. Feb 10; 6p.m. CT
Where: Madison, WI; Kohl Center (17,287)
Radio: Badgers Sports Network
Last Meeting: Wisconsin won, 65-55 @ Nebraska (2/10/15)
All-Time Series: Series tied 11-11
G Glynn Watson Jr. — Fr. 6-0, 165 (8.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 2.7 apg)
G Benny Parker — Sr. 5-9, 175 (4.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.3 apg)
G Andrew White III — Jr. 6-7, 216 (17.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.7 apg)
G/F Jack McVeigh — Fr. 6-8, 210 (4.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.2 apg)
F Michael Jacobson — Fr. 6-8, 222 (4.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.3 apg)
G Bronson Koenig — Jr. 6-4, 193 (13.4 pgg, 2.3 rpg, 2.2 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Jr. 6-2, 180 (7.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
F Vitto Brown — Jr. 6-8, 230 (8.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.5 apg)
F Nigel Hayes — Jr. 6-8, 240 (17.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.5 apg)
F Ethan Happ — Fr. 6-9, 235 (12.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.0 apg)
Biggest Matchup: Jack McVeigh vs. Vitto Brown
With usual starter and second leading scorer Shavon Shields out, things get a bit different in this matchup.
#Nebrasketball coach Tim Miles says Shavon Shields (concussion) won't play Wednesday at Wisconsin.
— Brian Rosenthal (@HuskerExtraBR) February 9, 2016
However, one thing won’t change — Wisconsin needing Vitto Brown to be a lock down defender against a player that could give him plenty of trouble. McVeigh isn’t afraid of the big game, scoring a career high 16 points to go with six rebounds against Indiana earlier in Big Ten play.
Brown’s length will help against a player who likes to play on the perimeter as much as around the basket. Can Brown keep McVeigh from completely stretching the Badgers defense? If Brown is in McVeigh’s face early and plays well physically on defense it could bode well.
Perhaps the bigger question is how Brown will react to a bigger defender on him on the other end of the court. He has taken advantage of size mismatches and knocked down deeper shots as of late, but that may need to change in this game. It will be interesting how the change from Shields to McVeigh will impact this contest.
3 Numbers to Know:
— 34: Wisconsin point guard Bronson Koenig has hit a three-pointer in 34 straight games, the fifth-longest streak in the nation. Koenig got it going in a major way this past weekend, pouring in 3 of 7 shots from beyond the arc. He’s also hit on 11 of 26 three point attempts (42.1 percent) in UW’s five-game win streak and has hit multiple triples in 19 of the 23 contests this season.
— +18: Over the last five games perhaps no stat is bigger than UW getting to the free throw line, and it has resulted in a +18 margin for Wisconsin made free throws versus opponents attempted free throws. Prior to that, Wisconsin was -70 on the season in that category.
— 71.4%: Just how much have things changed under Greg Gard? The Badgers starters have gone from playing just over 80 percent of the total minutes to just 71.4 percent under Gard. Jordan Hill has been the biggest recipient of this change in minutes for starters versus the bench, as he’s averaging 21.5 minutes per game under Gard and had a total of just 27 minutes this season with Bo Ryan in charge.
Prediction: Wisconsin 64, Nebraska 52
Sure, Wisconsin has a huge contest with Maryland coming up on the weekend, but you better believe this team and head coach Greg Gard are well aware that UW can’t afford to look ahead ever this season. It’s tempting to think a clunker is coming for the Badgers, but its already happened during this five-game win streak and UW won that one.
Given the defensive emphasis of both squads it is unlikely we’ll see a big scoring outburst in this game. Also, there is the fact that both teams have a propensity to go on scoring droughts helping to add up to a low-scoring affair to be likely.
In the end, the difference is the fact that Wisconsin not only has two big options, they have a third and sometimes fourth double digit scoring option nearly every game this season. Look for that to matter as the Badgers go to a 6-pack of victories in Big Ten play.