Wisconsin vs Nebraska Odds, Pick: Bad Spot for Badgers

Wisconsin vs Nebraska Odds, Pick: Bad Spot for Badgers article feature image

Steven Branscombe/Getty Images. Pictured: Nebraska’s Rienk Mast.

Wisconsin vs Nebraska Odds

Thursday, Feb. 1
8:30 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Wisconsin Odds
Point SpreadTotal PointsMoneyline
-110o / -110u
Nebraska Odds
Point SpreadTotal PointsMoneyline
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAB odds here.

The Big Ten continues to be one of the most physical conferences in college basketball. Each week, it seems like right when a team is ready to take a stranglehold on the conference, another team steps in to disrupt them.

It's an understatement to say Nebraska needs to win on Thursday evening to keep its NCAA Tournament dreams alive. The Huskers enter the game 15-6, but a win over visiting Wisconsin would do wonders for their overall resume.

Luckily for Nebraska, this is a horrible spot for Wisconsin. The Badgers host Purdue on Sunday, and they can give themselves a nice cushion in the conference standings with a victory.

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Wisconsin Badgers

The Badgers destroyed Michigan State last Friday night, and the contest was not as competitive as the final score suggests. Their lone loss at the Kohl Center came against Tennessee in early November in a game they easily could've won.

Now, they head to Pinnacle Bank Arena in a prototypical sandwich spot. Head coach Greg Gard's team must have the Boilermakers on their minds as they prepare for the Huskers.

Despite their terrific start, there are some areas of concern for the Badgers, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.

They're top-45 in adjusted defensive efficiency, but that statistic is misleading. Wisconsin's opponents are shooting 52% from the field, including a robust 37% from 3-point land. Although those 3-point numbers are inflated, it's still something to be concerned about moving forward.

This isn't the Badgers defense of years past when they suffocated opponents all over the floor and forced turnovers. They're a solid defensive rebounding team but struggle to block shots.

On the other side of the floor, they're an elite offense, ranking fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency.

The biggest difference-maker on offense has been the development of Wisconsin's backcourt. Guards AJ Storr and Max Klesmit continue to grow as the season progresses, and they need to be impactful to pull out a win on the road.

The Huskers have been lucky in terms of opposing 3-point percentage, which sets Storr and Klesmit up for big days from deep. Wisconsin is also an excellent free-throw shooting team, but Nebraska rarely fouls.

Besides the situational proponents, the Badgers defense holds me back from backing them in this matchup. Their perimeter defense may cost them if the game becomes a 3-point affair.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers

The status of forward Juwan Gary is an important part of the handicap. He has been out the past few games with a calf strain, but he's on the verge of returning. Without Gary, the Huskers haven't looked the same on offense.

Regardless, Nebraska's offense can find success against Wisconsin's perimeter defense. The Huskers take a ton of shots from the outside, making this the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the looming negative regression.

The Huskers are a great team to back as an underdog because of the high variance that 3-pointers provide. If they're cooking early from deep, the Badgers are in trouble.

Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg should empty the tank for his team, as he knows how big a victory would be for their NCAA Tournament hopes. If Gary is out again, expect Brice Williams and Rienk Mast to take on a larger role for the offense.

Defensively, these forwards can hold their own against the Badgers. The Huskers rank 28th in opponent 2-point percentage, which is needed because of their 3-point defense.

Their perimeter defense is a bit shaky, and they allow a lot of attempts from the outside. Nebraska has no chance of winning if Wisconsin cashes in on any looming negative regression.

Wisconsin vs. Nebraska

Betting Pick & Prediction

Even if Gary remains sidelined, this is a golden opportunity for the Huskers to pull off a home upset. It's just an awful situational spot for the Badgers.

The Huskers need a resume-building win to improve their NCAA Tournament hopes. Looking at their remaining schedule, this is the best possible win left.

I can't be convinced that the Badgers aren't looking ahead to the Boilermakers on Sunday. After a big win over Michigan State, there's reason to believe they'll come out flat before turning around for another big game.

The dream scenario is that the Huskers pull off a big upset, allowing us to back the Badgers on Sunday in a bounce-back opportunity.

All hands are on deck for Nebraska, and I have enough faith in its offense to pull out a win.

Pick: Nebraska PK or Better

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