Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 1st 2024

If one wants to know why No. 6 Wisconsin has gone from playing in the NIT last year to leading the Big Ten Conference this season, just take a look at its offense.

As they prepare for Thursday’s conference clash with dangerous Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., the Badgers have fashioned a much more efficient, potent offense than last season’s version.

The crisp execution and shot-making were on display for Wisconsin (16-4, 8-1 Big Ten) on Sunday during an 81-66 drilling of Michigan State in Madison. The Badgers canned 50.9 percent of their shots from the field, including a solid 9 of 25 from 3-point range, and committed just six turnovers.

“That is as close to a complete 40 minutes as we’ve had in a while,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “That is one of the best games we’ve played all year. We were pretty good from start to finish.”

St. John’s transfer AJ Storr has been a revelation. He’s gone from scoring 8.8 points per game last season to 15.9 with his new team. Storr hit Michigan State for 28 points on 17 shot attempts, connecting on three 3-pointers, to polish off a season sweep.

The Badgers also get 11.9 points from Steven Crowl and 11.5 from Tyler Wahl. And their improvements on offense haven’t come at the expense of defense. They’re still top 50 in efficiency at that end of the floor, holding Michigan State to 41.7 percent shooting on Sunday.

“They understand that you can’t let success change you in terms of how you approach every day, and how you work,” Gard said.

“Their goals are big and our jobs are challenging them and pointing out the things they need to get better at, and hold them accountable to it.”

Meanwhile, Nebraska (15-6, 5-5) is one win from matching last season’s total, an indication of how much better it is. The Cornhuskers have a chance to make strides toward earning an NCAA Tournament at-large berth with this game, plus upcoming trips to Illinois (Sunday) and Northwestern (Wednesday).

But to do that, they’ll have to play much better than they did Saturday in a 73-51 defeat at Maryland. Nebraska coughed up 18 turnovers that the Terrapins cashed in for 25 points and also got clobbered on the glass 43-25. That’s why the Cornhuskers took 21 fewer shots.

“They exposed us with turning us over and just crushing us on the glass,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said. “And that’s becoming a very discouraging issue and a theme for our team on the road on the glass.”

None of the Cornhuskers’ four double-figure scorers got there at Maryland, with C.J. Wilcher coming off the bench to hit for 14 points. Keisei Tominaga leads the balanced attack at 13.6 points per game, with Bradley transfer Rienk Mast contributing 13.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

This is the second meeting of the teams this season. Wahl scored 17 points and Wisconsin sank 13 3-pointers on Jan. 6 in an 88-72 victory in Madison.

–Field Level Media

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