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December 27, 2011
MADISON - Just like opening a holiday gift, there's a quantifiable uncertainty for the Wisconsin men's basketball team as it preps to play Nebraska later Tuesday night, in the Big 10 debut for the Cornhuskers.
You're not quite sure what you're going to get.
"It almost feels like a non-conference game right now," UW junior center Jared Berggren said. "You're not entirely sure what they're going to do."
Here's what we've got so far.
Nebraska, led by leading scorer Bo Spencer (16.0 ppg), averages just less than 67 points per contest. They've won eight of their 11 games and have two players (Spencer and Jorge Brian Diaz) averaging double figures.
Defensively, Nebraska is allowing just more than 61 points per game while forcing more than 13 turnovers per.
"When you go into Big Ten play you kind of know guys and what they run and things like that," Berggren said. "But with Nebraska, being their first year in and first time going through the conference, there's a little bit more unknown."
We can take this Nebraska basketball introduction a little futher.
The Huskers outrebound opponents by 4.7 boards per game, they dish more than three assists than their opponents and swat more than one shot per game more than opponents. Nebraska has lost twice (Oregon, Wake Forest) at home and has collected two of its eight wins (USC, TCU) on the road.
"We're not unfamiliar with the team," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "But it's not like you have past scouting reports or information on players from year to year."
Neither does Nebraska.
They haven't played a team that averages 68.2 points per game, a more than modest number until you realize UW's points per possession ration, and one that additionally holds opponents to 44.6 points per game.
Jordan Taylor, though he hasn't scored much like he did a season ago, is starting to find his rhythm. He's shooting 47 percent from the field over UW's past three games and seems to be heating up right at the right moment.
He still doesn't turn the ball over and he's still the unquestioned leader on Wisconsin's team. Nebraska hasn't seen anything like Wisconsin this season, just as Wisconsin hasn't seen anything like Nebraska.
That's what makes this fun.
"We're going to have to learn in a hurry," Ryan said. "They're going to have to do the same for us. It is what it is. You play 18 of them. You might as well start in Lincoln.
Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m. (CT).