Things may look a little out of whack on Sunday when you tune in to see Wisconsin tangle with Nebraska for the final time at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, so don't adjust your television sets - it's just strange and new uniforms for the Badgers and Huskers. Badgers vs. Huskers tips off at 3:30pm Central and can be seen on the Big Ten Network.
Besides the alternate uniforms this could be a big game for the Badgers. Why? Well, a road win, any road win will be huge in the Big Ten this season and getting an early road win can put the Badgers a leg up on the competition. Especially with the contests ahead of the UW over the next week.
Nebraska comes in at 9-5 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play after getting throttled, 70-44, on the road to Ohio State in their conference opener. As the score may tell you it wasn't pretty at all for the Huskers and while Tim Miles has his team heading in the right direction already they may not have the horses to compete with the big boys of the B1G just yet.
The Huskers rank last in scoring offense, putting up just 60.4 points a game. That's not good, but the numbers get worse as they allow 61.5 points a game for a -1.1 scoring margin which is 11th in the conference. They also allow their opponents to shoot 43.4% from the field, dead last in opponents field goal percentage in the B1G.
So, perhaps the 9-5 record is a bit deceiving as they step up in level of competition big time. That's not to say they don't have a few very nice pieces to work with or aren't capable of biting anyone at any given time. The Huskers can rely on the trio of guard's Dylan Talley (13.6ppg) and Ray Gallegos (13.1ppg) along with forward Brandon Ubel (12.6ppg).
However, that's also part of the issue. Outside of those three this team gets virtually nothing from the rest of the team with only three other players averaging better than 5 points a game.
Jared Berggren vs. Andre Almedia - I'm betting that's what you'd be thinking in ths one? No? Even though this is perhaps the most athletic matchup down low that Bergs has faced, for me the key matchup will be Ryan Evans on Dylan Talley. Talley is a 6'5" guard that can drive and play well around the rim. That means Evans is likely to get the defensive duties to match up with him. Wisconsin can't win this game if they allow Talley to go off and Evans has become a great defensive stopper in his own right. Watch this one-on-one matchup closely if you want to get a microcosm of what the game could have in store for us in general.
Wisconsin needs to prove to me that they can get anything out of their guards not named Ben Brust if they are going to be a contender in the Big Ten. Today, against a damn good duo of Talley and Gallegos would be a great time to start. As the old saying goes - if you have two point guards splitting minutes, you actually have none. Luckily for the Badgers they have way more talent up front than the Huskers and I fully expect them to exploit that.
Especially since Mike Bruesewitz seems to be back to his old form again and Ryan Evans likes to jack up shots like they are going out of style. If those two can combine to hit at least 45% of their field goal attempts this will be an easy win for Bucky. If not, well it could spell trouble. However, I just don't see a way the Huskers can hang with the Badgers, especially in a grind it out ball game where the depth, or lack thereof, of Nebraska will be exposed.
Score: Wisconsin 66, Nebraska 52