For the first time since Feb. 1, Wisconsin (12-6 Big Ten, 25-6 overall) lost. This one should certainly leave a bad taste in the Badgers’ mouth as the Big Ten tournament starts up.
Wisconsin ended its regular season with a 77-68 loss at Nebraska (11-7, 19-11).
The game started with an electric Husker crowd that only grew rowdier as Nebraska opened with a 10-3 run, culminating in sophomore forward Terran Petteway making a 3-pointer and emphatically celebrating.
The Badgers were able to calm things down from there, quickly pulling within one after a timeout and later holding a small lead for the rest of a half that ended with them leading 35-33.
The second half began much better for Wisconsin, as quick baskets in the first minute gave it a seven-point lead, its largest of the game.
However, Nebraska was then able to slowly push into the lead and later extend one of its own. Petteway and sophomore guard Shavon Shields were unstoppable in this phase of the game. Between the time when Wisconsin went up seven and when Nebraska took the lead, Petteway and Shields scored all but one of the Huskers’ 17 points.
By the end of the game, the two had combined with sophomore forward Walter Pitchford to score 67 of Nebraska’s 77 points.
This powerful attack from the lengthy guard-forward hybrids created a nightmare for Wisconsin’s usual rotation.
Foul trouble led to seldom played freshman forward Vitto Brown facing two of the Big Ten’s leading scorers in the midst of a hostile crowd.
Eventually, the Badgers found themselves down 10 with a little over two minutes to go.
From there, it was time to defend aggressively, hoping for turnovers and settling for Nebraska free throws.
This didn’t work out, as the Badgers themselves were plagued by turnovers and bad free-throw shooting.
A team that came in second in the Big Ten in free-throw percentage shot 11-for-21 (52.4 percent). A team that led the nation in fewest turnovers served up 11, with it feeling like much more. It was simply a rough game in an atmosphere that required better basketball play.
Thanks to an earlier Michigan State loss, the Badgers are not hurt by this in the Big Ten standings. They will get the No. 2 seed and play the winner of Minnesota and Penn State Friday. in the Big Ten tournament.
Meanwhile, Nebraska will get a first-round bye for the first time in its Big Ten tenure with this win.
This result should also spell the end of the Badgers’ chances at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.