Busting Brackets

Big Ten Basketball: Grading each team's 2023-24 non-conference performance

The end of the non-conference portion of the 2023-24 college basketball season is near, meaning it is time to grade how each Big Ten team has fared in non-conference play.

Zach Edey, Fletcher Loyer, Lance Jones
Zach Edey, Fletcher Loyer, Lance Jones / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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Nebraska Cornhuskers: B+

Picked just 12th in the Big Ten Preseason Poll, Fred Hoiberg’s Cornhuskers have put together a nice start with a 10-2 (1-1) record -- placing themselves firmly in the NCAA Tournament conversation.

Nebraska started the year 7-0 but would end up losing by nearly 30 to Creighton at home and blowing a 15-point lead to Minnesota on the road.

Despite this, Nebraska rebounded quite nicely with wins over Michigan State at home followed by a 62-46 win over Kansas State in Manhattan, holding the Wildcats to just 12 second-half points and handing Jerome Tang just his second loss at home leading the Wildcats.

The combination of Brice Williams, Rienk Mast, Juwan Gary and Keisei Tominaga gives Hoiberg stronger scoring options alongside increased  physicality that he has not had in previous years. 

As the Cornhuskers prepare to take on South Carolina State on Friday, Dec. 29 to close out their non-conference slate, a solid B+ grade gives Husker faithful plenty of optimism heading into January.

Wisconsin Badgers: B+

Wisconsin has had a rather strange, up-and-down start to the season, to say the least.

Entering the year returning the entirety of their starting five, the Badgers started the season slowly with double-digit losses to Tennessee at home and Providence on the road while struggling to put away Robert Morris at home.

Then, Wisconsin traveled to Fort Myers and completely overwhelmed Virginia, beat SMU and then upset Marquette by double-digits at home.

After a 70-57 win over Michigan State on the road, Wisconsin traveled to Arizona, only to lose by 25 in blowout fashion.

Despite the unpredictably of Greg Gard’s club, faring 8-3 in one of college basketball’s strongest NCOS gives the Badgers a solid B+ as they closed out the non-conference portion of the season beating Chicago State -- who recently Northwestern on the road -- on Friday.