The Big Ten only had one game on Thursday, but it was a huge one with Wisconsin on the road against Nebraska. The game would eventually resolve in overtime.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 80, No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers 72 (OT)
This is one we’ve had circled for awhile. It put a top 10 Wisconsin team on the road in what’s becoming one of the league’s tougher road venues. Add in an upstart Husker squad that’s played really well and it had all the makings of an upset. It also held plenty of significance for both sides. The Badgers needed it to keep pace with Purdue in the Big Ten title race and Nebraska needed it to get and/or stay on the right side of the NCAA bubble.
The game itself was fantastic. The Badgers came flying out of the gates and jumped out to a double-digit lead in the opening minutes. However, Nebraska woke up after that and started gradually chipping away over the next 20 minutes or so. The Huskers then hit some big buckets down the stretch, incredibly forcing overtime. Nebraska outscored Wisconsin by a 13-5 margin in the extra session to grab the win. Both sides played quality defense, but CJ Wilcher’s 22 points proved to be the difference.
For Nebraska, it’s hard to understate the significance of this one. The Huskers had a pretty solid resume heading into February, but had let a handful of opportunities slip away, preventing the team from moving off the bubble and into the safe category for the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska really needed a win like this and got it on Thursday night. Notably, the team moved up to 69.5 percent odds to make the field, per TRank. That’s a massive improvement on where things were just a few days ago. As long as there isn’t a huge collapse over the coming weeks, Nebraska should be going dancing.
On the other side, Wisconsin fell to 16-5 overall and 8-2 in Big Ten play with the win. But more notably, the Badgers dropped in the conference standings, now a half game behind Purdue. While Wisconsin still gets two games against Purdue in the regular season, that’s a big blow the team very well may not overcome, particularly how good the Boilermakers have been this season. It’ll put a lot of pressure on the Badgers moving forward.
Nebraska returns to action on Sunday on the road against Illinois. Wisconsin will try and get back on track in a massive matchup against Purdue at home on Sunday. It could very well decide the conference.