College Basketball Handicapping Picks: #9 Wisconsin Badgers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

#9 Wisconsin Badgers at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Pinnacle Bank Arena – Lincoln, Nebraska

Sunday, March 9, 2014, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: Big Ten Network
Opening Line: Wisconsin -3
Current Line: Wisconsin -2 1/2
Opening Total: 131
Current Total: 131
Opening Money Line: Wisconsin -145 / Nebraska +125
Current Money Line: Wisconsin -150 / Nebraska +130

Wisconsin closes out the regular season at Nebraska Sunday.
Wisconsin closes out the regular season at Nebraska Sunday.

The 25-5 Wisconsin Badgers are one of the hottest teams in the country having won 8 straight games. The Badgers have even played themselves into the discussion for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament if they win the Big Ten Tournament next week.

However, first things first, as the Badgers must first close out the regular season at the 18-11 Nebraska Cornhuskers Sunday in Lincoln. Both teams are playing for seeding in the Big Ten tournament. Wisconsin is 12-5 in conference and tied with Michigan State for second behind 15-3 Michigan who already clinched the outright regular season title and #1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Badgers can wrap up the 2 seed with a win at Nebraska or a Michigan State loss at Ohio State Sunday. Nebraska is currently in fourth in the conference at 10-7. The Cornhuskers can wrap up the fourth seed and a first round bye with a win or an Ohio State loss. Nebraska is considered a bubble team for the NCAA tournament but a quality win against a top 10 team would certainly bolster their resume.

The series between Wisconsin and Nebraska is tied 10-10, but the Cornhuskers are 6-3 against the Badgers in Lincoln. Wisconsin has won 5 straight games against Nebraska including all four meeting since Nebraska joined the Big Ten three seasons ago. This is the only scheduled meeting between the teams this season, unless they play in the Big Ten tournament.

Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan. The Badgers have losses at Indiana, Michigan, at Minnesota, Northwestern and Ohio State. Wisconsin has key wins over St. John’s in Sioux Falls, SD, Florida, at Green Bay, Bowling Green, Oral Roberts, Saint Louis and West Virginia both in a tournament in Cancun, at Virginia, Marquette, Milwaukee, at Northwestern, Iowa twice, Illinois twice, Purdue twice (including 76-70 in Madison Wednesday). Michigan State, Minnesota, at Michigan, Indiana and at Penn State. The Badgers are 16-14 ATS and the total is 15-14 this season.

Wisconsin is outscoring teams 73-64. The Badgers are #37 in points allowed nationally. Wisconsin is shooting 45.6% from the field and 36.9% from 3 point range. The Badgers make 75.3% of their free throws. Wisconsin is #16 in free throw shooting nationally. Badger opponents are shooting 42.9% from the field and 33% from 3 point range. Wisconsin averages 33.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.5 per game. The Badgers average 11.9 assists, 8.1 turnovers, 5.2 steals and 3.4 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.6 assists, 10.2 turnovers, 4.2 steals and 3 blocks per game.

Forward Frank Kaminsky averages 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game. Forward Sam Dekker averages 13.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Guard Ben Brust averages 12.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.  Guard Traevon Jackson averages 10.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Guard Josh Gasser averages 9.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Forward Nigel Hayes averages 7.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Duje Dukan, Bronson Koenig,  and George Marshall will also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Nebraska is coached by Tim Miles. The Cornhuskers have losses to Massachusetts and UAB in a tournament in Charleston, Creighton, Cincinnati, Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan twice, Purdue, Penn State and at Illinois. Nebraska has won 7 of their last 8 games including 2 straight. The Cornhuskers have key wins over Georgia in Charleston, Northern Illinois, Miami-(FL), Arkansas State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana twice (including 70-60 Wednesday in Bloomington), Northwestern twice, Illinois, at Michigan State, Penn State, and Purdue . Nebraska is 18-10 ATS and the total is 10-18 this season.

Nebraska is outscoring teams 67-65 this season. The Cornhuskers are shooting 42.7% from the field and 33.6% from 3 point range. Nebraska makes 71.3% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.8% from the field and 31.7% from 3 point range. The Cornhuskers average 33.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.4 per game. Nebraska averages 9.6 assists, 11.1 turnovers, 6.9 steals and 3 blocks per game. Opponents average 11 assists, 12.4 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 3 blocks per game.

Forward Terran Petteway averages 17.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1 steal per game. Guard Shavon Shields averages 12.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Guard Deverell Biggs averages 9.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1 steal per game. He was kicked off the team in the middle of the season. Guard Ray Gallegos averages 7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Forward Walter Pitchford averages 9.2 points, and 4.7 rebounds per game. Forward Leslee Smith averages 5.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Guard Tai Webster averages 4.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. David Rivers and Benny Parker will also get significant time in the rotation.

Wisconsin is 4-1 ATS in road games, and against teams with winning home records, and 1-6 in Sunday games.

Nebraska is 4-0 ATS in Sunday games, 5-1 after a straight up win, 10-2 against teams with winning records, 9-2 after a cover, 12-3 overall and in Big Ten games, 3-1-1 against teams with winning road records, and 19-7-1 at home.

Nebraska has some good wins over teams like Michigan State and Ohio State, but also some puzzling losses to teams like Illinois and Penn State. the Cornhuskers seem to play to the level of their competition. I think they give Wisconsin a tough game, but the Badgers simply have too much.

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