Where: Lincoln, Neb.; Pinnacle Arena
When: Thursday, Feb. 9; 8p.m. CT
Spread: Wisconsin -8.5
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 13-12
Last Meeting: Nebraska won 70-58 (March 10, 2016 in Big Ten Tournament)
Projected Starting Lineups
Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-13, 4-7)
G Tai Webster — Sr. 6-4, 195 (18.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.1 apg)
G Evan Taylor — Jr. 6-5, 206 (4.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.2 apg)
F Jack McVeigh — So. 6-8, 215 (7.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.6 apg)
F Michael Jacobson — So. 6-9, 230 (6.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C Jordy Tshimanga — Fr. 6-11, 275 (4.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.2 apg)
No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (19-3, 5-1)
G Bronson Koenig — Sr. 6-3, 190 (14.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.2 apg)
G Zak Showalter — Sr. 6-3, 185 (7.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.0 apg)
F Nigel Hayes — Sr. 6-8, 240 (13.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.1 apg)
F Vitto Brown — Sr. 6-8, 235 (7.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.0 apg)
C Ethan Happ — So. 6-10, 280 (14.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.8 apg)
Matchup to Watch: Badgers Guards vs. Tai Webster
Nebraska goes as far as Tai Webster goes — one look at the stat sheet makes that abundantly clear. Such is the case when you have a very young team and his veteran status for Nebrasketball.
He’s a matchup nightmare for a lot of teams because of his combination of height, length and speed. But, the Badgers have some of the better backcourt defenders in the league in Bronson Koenig and Zak Showalter. The two have combined to average 2.1 steals per game, with Showalter chipping in 34 steals in just 23 games this season.
That’s especially important given the fact that Webster has been a turnover machine this season — coughing up the ball 67 times in just 22 games (3.0 turnovers per game). If Wisconsin can get after Webster and frustrate him on the offensive end of the floor it could be a tough night.
Conversely, Webster is a really good rebounder on a team that ranks ninth in the Big Ten. He’ll have to be on his game against the three-point shot though, as the Badgers like to shoot from deep. It hasn’t been the strength of this Nebraska team, nor Webster much of this season and is something to really watch (more on that later).
3 Numbers to Know
— 54.4: That is the average points per game Wisconsin has given up to Nebraska since they entered the Big Ten. UW’s defense this season has been lights out for the most part, and with an opponent that has just one player averaging double figures this could be a really bad night for Nebrasketball.
— .455: That is the three-point shooting percentage of Huskers’ Big Ten opponents this season. It also happens to be the worst three-point shooting defense in league play. UW has attempted just 192 three-pointers in conference play, which is third fewest, but may find themselves open for those shots on the regular in this game. If the Badgers can get going from the outside (easier said than done), look for this to be a long night for the hosts.
— 9: That is the average margin of loss for Nebraska during the last eight games. Nebraska comes in having lost seven of their last eight games and that likely means many Badgers fans expect an easy victory here. However, all of those seven losses have been pretty close, and when you add in the fact that Wisconsin hasn’t exactly been in blow-out mode on the road as of late, it could mean a tighter affair than most expect.
Nebraska and Wisconsin have met nine times in Big Ten play, with the Huskers winning just twice no matter where this game has been played. It just so happens the second of those victories came the last time these two teams met. You can bet this veteran Wisconsin team remembers that shocking loss.
You can also bet that the Huskers aren’t the same team that beat UW last season either. Look for Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes to dominate down low, while Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown may have a lot of fun on the perimeter as well.
This is a mismatch in terms of experience and ability, look for it to end with the Badgers winning going away.
Wisconsin 68, Nebraska 55
Badgers basketball lands pair of 4-star players in 2021 class
Witnessing a win over the Northwestern Wildcats must have done the trick, because two of Wisconsin’s biggest targets in the 2021 class both committed on Sunday.
First to commit was the more surprising name, as Top247 point guard Chucky Hepburn.
The No. 23 ranked point guard and No. 141 ranked player in the country per the 247Sports composite rankings chose the Badgers over offers from Minnesota, Nebraska, and Creighton. He also was beginning to see interest from some of the bigger names in college basketball, but chose to pick a team that had been on him for awhile.
“I called coach Gard 30 minutes ago and committed,” Hepburn told Badger247. “The education part was really great. I loved all the academic advisors are part of the basketball program and how they work with them.
“With the basketball side, I fit perfectly with the system they run. I feel like the assistant coaches will help me get where I want to be, because they all played professionally before.”
But, not long after that news broke, word of the biggest target on UW’s list committing would break as well.
Wisconsin would add 4-star forward Matthew Mors to the mix as well.
Mors comes to the Badgers ranked as the No. 115 player in the country and the No. 22 power forward in the nation as well.
The Badgers had been on Mors since his eighth grade year and the persistence paid off, despite other offers across the Big Ten and Big 12 coming to him.
Mors chose Wisconsin over names like Creighton, Iowa State, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, TCU, and more.
With these two pledges, the Badgers have solidified their 2021 recruiting class rather early and they hit on all their top priority prospects as well.
Hepburn and Mors join fellow 4-star player in 6-8 power forward Chris Hodges. With three 4-star players to their name, the Badgers currently own the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
Yes, Wisconsin isn’t likely to own that No. 1 ranking by the end of the class, but there’s no doubt that the Badgers have done something special in the 2021 class.
It is a huge statement for head coach Greg Gard after the program missed out on some massive in-state names in the past few classes. Many had begun to wonder if the Badgers could ever hit on big targets with Gard as the head coach.
Those thoughts should be put to rest with this class and how the Badgers closed out the 2020 class prior to this.
It should also be noted that assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft was the lead recruiter on each of the last four overall commitments for the Badgers, including 2020 names Steven Crowl and Ben Carlson.
Of course, we won’t know for a while how these big recruiting numbers stack up once they get on the floor for some time. But, winning on the recruiting trail like this puts the Badgers in a much better spot to be competitive for a very long time than previously thought.
Carlson commits to Badgers 2020 basketball class
It appears the 2020 Wisconsin Badgers basketball class has come to a close.
The four-star center chose the Badgers over a who’s who of basketball offers in the Midwest including Ohio State, Xavier, Stanford, Purdue, Creighton, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa State, Kansas State, Wake Forest, and others.
Much like Crowl, Carlson took his official visit to Madison earlier this month for the Central Michigan football game.
Carlson comes to the Badgers as the No. 15 ranked forward in the entire country per the 247Sports composite rankings, the No. 82 ranked player overall and with a .967 grade from the composite.
He was high up the Badgers list for a long time, even as they targeted other highly rate options at forward like Jalen Johnson. However, as the board began to shake out, it was clear the Badgers wanted Carlson no matter what Johnson or anyone else was going to do in this class.
It appears that the relationship that Carlson formed with the current roster while on his visit is what put the Badgers over the top in this lengthly recruitment.
“A big focus was on getting to know the players, so I hung out with them a lot,” Carlson told Badger247. “They talked about how the coaching staff tells you straight-up how everything is going to be, they don’t sugarcoat anything. They told me about how much they liked it there.”
“I had a pretty good idea of how Wisconsin was going in,” he continued. “The biggest thing was getting to know the players and I really liked them. I know about the history and the campus, but getting to know the players was big for sure.”
Adding this type of nationally known name to an already big class is huge for the Badgers. In fact, UW has the No. 4 ranked class per the 247Sports composite team rankings.
It would be the highest the Badgers have ever finished in the rankings, with the 2006 class under Bo Ryan the next highest at No. 20 in the country.
Wisconsin is getting easily one of the most skilled big men in the class and an instant impact type of player. What has been a question mark up front could easily be a strength of this team quickly thanks to Carlson and Crowl’s commitments to the class.
Badgers add 4-star center to 2020 basketball class
What could be a historic recruiting class for the Wisconsin Badgers got another boost on Tuesday as 4-star center Steven Crowl verbally committed to the Badgers.
He went on his official visit this past weekend and apparently it was all he needed to see.
Crowl has since cancelled trips to other contenders like Colorado, Iowa, and Northern Iowa. He also had an offer from the in-state Gophers and was thinking about a visit there.
However, his official visit for the Central Michigan football game weekend was all he needed to pull the trigger on a commitment to Gard and the Badgers.
Crowl joins an already loaded Badgers 2020 class that includes in-state star Johnny Davis and his twin brother Jordan Davis, as well as the No. 25 ranked point guard in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings, Lorne Bowman.
This class also already has preferred walk-on Carter Gilmore, who chose that offer over other mid-major D1 offers and saw his recruitment pick up considerably in the July evaluation period.
While his name wasn’t a hot one on the recruiting trail, he was a late riser and currently sits as the No. 102 ranked player in the class overall and the No. 17 center in the nation per the 247Sports composite rankings.
The St. Paul, Minn. native is also continuing the pipeline of players coming from the cross-border rival Gopher state. He comes from the same AAU program — Minnesota D1 — that produced both Tyler Wahl and Nate Reuvers.
With Crowl in the fold, Wisconsin has added 12 players from the state of Minnesota in the 247Sports composite era, according to Badger247.
When you take a look at Crowl’s film, what you see is someone that has begun to both physically and mentally mature. He’s got the skill set that UW likes out of their bigs as well, with a nice looking shot from the outside.
However, what you also see on tape is someone that may need to take a year to adjust to the college game and that may be perfectly fine with the coaching staff as they still will have Nate Reuvers and Tyler Wahl to work with up front as starters.
It will be interesting to see how Crowl digests the speed of the college game early on. If he can adjust to that and the physicality, he may indeed find himself in the rotation quickly though.
He is certainly in the mold of what has become the classic Wisconsin big man.
Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks
They say you can always go home, and for one former Wisconsin Badger he’s coming back to a state he called home for four years.
Former Badgers forward Jon Leuer was traded early on Thursday morning from the Detroit Pistons to the Milwaukee Bucks. In exchange for Leuer, the Bucks gave up the 30th overall pick in tonight’s NBA Draft and traded away Tony Snell.
Last season, Leuer played in 41 games for the Pistons and made just one start. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his ninth season in the NBA.
Leuer is a very similar player to Snell, but comes at a much more team-friendly salary.
In trading away Snell, the Bucks free up an additional $4 million in salary this year and another $12 million next year.
This could be seen as a way for the Bucks to pony up the big money that Khris Middleton wants from the team in order to stay in Milwaukee.
As for Leuer, he is 17th on the all-time Badgers scoring list with 1,376 points to his name. He also finished his career with 551 rebounds.
Leuer’s final season in Madison was his best statistically, as he helped lead the 2010-11 Badgers team to the Sweet 16. He averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that year.
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