Finally, the month of March is upon us. After a successful February, Wisconsin looks poised to make an extensive, post-season run. Only three games remain in the regular season for the Badgers. If all are won, the NCAA selection committee could reward UW with a high seed in a region with close proximity.
UW’s first two games will be against teams with 5-10 conference records. Wisconsin shouldn’t have any problems against either team, but in the Big Ten anything could happen. To cap off the season UW will travel to Lincoln to face an up-and-coming Nebraska team.
Here’s a preview for what’s to come for the final three regular season games.
3/2 at Penn State
The madness will begin in State College, PA against the Nittany Lions. Penn State is currently tied for the worst record in the Big Ten conference. Things have not looked good for Penn State. Other than a pair of victories over Ohio State their season has been miserable.
It will be senior night for the Lions; their last home game of the season. Typically, senior night is highly emotional for the team along with its fans. I’m not saying it won’t, but when you think of rowdy crowds, the Bryce Jordan Center doesn’t come to mind.
Poor attendance has hurt Penn State. Through the first 13 games this season, Bryce Jordan Center has averaged around 6,000 fans. Not good for an arena that seats up to 15,000.
Wisconsin will have to watch out for guards DJ Newbill and Tim Frazier. Each average over 15 points per game landing them both inside the Big Ten’s top ten for scoring. If Bo Ryan can think of a plan to stop the two, the Badgers will be just fine.
3/5 vs. Purdue
March 5 will be senior night inside the Kohl center. Fans of Wisconsin will say farewell to Ben Brust, Zach Bohannon, and redshirt-junior Evan Anderson who has decided not to return his senior season.
Highlighting this group is Ben Brust. Ben has been a major contributor since his sophomore year in 2011. The sharpshooter has accumulated 179 triples over his career ranking him ninth in school history.
Brust and the Badgers will be matched up against a struggling Boilermaker squad. On Wednesday, Purdue was beaten by the buzzer against Michigan, who at one time trailed by 19 points.
There’s minimal concern here for the Badgers; Purdue’s current three-game skid will most likely be extended come Sunday, when they will head to Iowa to face the Hawkeyes. The Boilermaker’s future looks dismal, but Wisconsin should prepare as if they were Michigan State.
It shouldn’t be difficult finding motivation; being that it’s the last home game of the season. Each player understands the support of the Wisconsin faithful. Come next Wednesday, they will give everything they have to prove their appreciation to the state.
In order for the Badgers to win they will need to execute. Emotions will be high along with energy. Keeping calm will be key; if the Badgers escape their comfort zone Purdue may find themselves in upset territory. Look for Ben Brust to control his team as he takes his final steps on the Kohl Center hardwood.
3/9 at Nebraska
Nebraska has turned out to be the surprise team of the Big Ten. With the help of a five-game winning streak they have jumped into the sixth place in the conference. With a few more wins under their belt they may end up in the NCAA tournament.
Every game throughout the season will be crucial for the Husker’s. Beating the Badgers would be a huge for their RPI ranking. Expect Lincoln will be hostile; it’s been 16 years since Nebraska has gone to the big dance.
Momentum is necessary when heading into the tournament play and Bo Ryan knows this. The game itself may mean nothing to the Badgers but that won’t stop them from giving the Huskers a run for their money.
Of the three games remaining in the regular season, this will be the best. Both teams understand the implements of this game.
When it comes to scoring, Nebraska is far from the best. They win their games on the defensive side with hard fought possessions. Wisconsin’s offense should be aggressive; the last thing the Huskers want is a shootout. Nebraska has struggled at times putting up points. Strategically, to defeat the Huskers, UW must push tempo and aim for over 70 points.
It won’t be easy; since the University of Nebraska opened Pinnacle Bank Arena this year, the Huskers have won 13 of their 14 home games. It’ll be its loudest come the ninth, when the Badgers come to town.