Nebraska Basketball: Three Keys to Upsetting Wisconsin


It hasn’t been the season anyone involved in Nebraska basketball has wanted. Be it players, coaches or fans. Maybe expectations were just too high? Tim Miles would tell you expecting a tournament bid wasn’t too much to ask. Sadly, those dreams are likely shattered unless the Huskers can win the Big 10 tournament.

So where does that leave us now? We must take one game at a time because the end stretch doesn’t get any easier after Tuesday night. That’s when the number five ranked Wisconsin Badgers come to Lincoln.

It’ll be their first visit back since last year’s “No Sit Sunday” upset victory for the Huskers. For this game the Badgers come into Lincoln riding a 6-game win streak (started against the Huskers) following a loss on the road at Rutgers. Leading the charge for Wisconsin is All-American Frank Kaminsky. The big man is averaging 17.8 points per game along with 8.1 rebounds.

Big Red has already lost to Wisconsin once, but they have a history of upsetting teams on their home court. What will it take? What are the 3 keys to the game?

1) Defend the three point line. In the last game, Wisconsin hit 52.4% from beyond the arc. If NU wants to pull the upset they’ll need to bring that number down quite a bit (the Badgers season average is 35.9%). It’s an incredibly tough task for the Huskers with Kaminsky being seven foot tall yet can play in the paint as well as from distance. It’ll be on Walter Pitchford to guard the big man, but he’s not the only piece to the puzzle here. Petteway and the rest of the guards when doubling inside must be able to react and switch back to their men beyond the arc. If anyone is lazy in defense this could turn in a long, late evening.

2) Make open shots. This may seem simplistic and I know Nebraska basketball CAN do this, but after the abysmal effort against Penn State, this bears emphasis. Against PSU, the Huskers shot just 30% from the floor and 10% from three. That’s simply unacceptable, regardless of the opponent. If they pull that against a team like Wisconsin they’ll get beat by a minimum of 50 points, and I’m not exaggerating.

This especially goes for Terran Petteway. 1/7 from three and 4/12 from the field won’t cut it for the league’s returning scoring champion. Shavon Shields added 12 points against PSU, but no other starter scored more than three and only reserve point guards Tarin Smith and Tai Webster added more (eight and five respectively). If Nebraska basketball wants to win they’ll need another scorer against Wisconsin. A third scorer needed? I know, I know…I’m a broken record.

3) Rebound, rebound, rebound! NU got outrebounded by 13 against Penn State and Shavon Shields lead the way with six. Leslee Smith and Moses Abraham combined for just 11 minutes and Walter Pitchford, the Huskers’ normal post man only grabbed one board himself. That won’t work against Kaminsky and his team. No second opportunities are key as well as getting NU to turn defense into offense.

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In addition to rebounding and along the same lines as defense into offense, turning Wisconsin over and converting will be huge. Last year in the upset, NU scored 17 points off of turnovers compared to Wisconsin’s 2. Recipe for success? That’s it.

Huskers take the floor at the Vault at 8pm tonight then it’s on the road to Purdue on Sunday for a 4:15 tip off. Tonight’s game is on ESPN/WatchESPN and Thursday on BTN. GO BIG RED!!!