Following another conference loss, this time to Ohio State 70-60, Nebraska has a lot of questions to answer as it has been three straight losses and now their most consistent player, senior forward Issac Copeland Jr. is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Nebraska will face a Wisconsin team at home that is playing some of their best basketball of the season and they have cracked the Top 25 at #24 in the nation.
Wisconsin comes to Lincoln at 14-6, 6-3 in the conference, and winners of three in a row and that streak began when the Badgers took down 2nd ranked Michigan at home. Wisconsin is a gritty team as they average 73 points per game and allow 62. From the field, they shoot 48%, with a lot of those shots coming from the paint.
The guy who is getting those paint touches is senior forward Ethan Haap. It seems like Haap has been in college forever, but that might just be because of the success he has had in the Big Ten. This season he is potentially the Big Ten Player of the year as he’s averaging a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The steady senior is also dishing out five assists per game as well.
D’Mitrik Trice is the second leading scorer for the Badgers this season at 14 points. The sophomore is a sharpshooter hitting 46% of his three-pointers this season. Nebraska will need to keep an eye on him as Wisconsin does like to use some inside-out action in their offense.
For Nebraska, the record stands at 13-7 and in conference play, they are 3-6. For them, it’s back to being the underdog and they will have to figure out how to replace the production of senior standout Issac Copeland Jr. and his 14 points per game. The Huskers are going to start Gothenburg native and senior Tanner Borchardt. They will not call upon him to score but to provide a steady defensive and rebounding presence.
To provide more scoring for Nebraska, expect to see James Palmer Jr. take even more shots, Glynn Watson Jr. to be more aggressive, and Thomas Allen to be more of a focal point as well. Isaiah Roby will called upon to provide a punch as well and if he stays out of foul trouble, he could score a lot for Nebraska. The X-Factor is sophomore guard Nana Akenten. Akenten is averaging five points per game this season and he could be asked to provide more on offense. He looks like a guy who is poised for a breakout.
For Head Coach Tim Miles, these are a big next few games and it starts with a big one tonight in the Vault hosting a Top-25 team. To give Nebraska a chance to get into the Big Dance come March, this is a prime example of a game Nebraska has to win.
Tonight’s game can be heard on 880 KRVN and 106.9 FM with pregame at 6:00 P.M. and tip-off at 7:00 P.M.