What to Expect: Nebraska

021112yeuComing off a signature road win at Ohio State on Sunday afternoon that helped it retain the No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press top 25 poll, Indiana returns to Assembly Hall on Wednesday night to host Nebraska. The Cornhuskers, led by first-year coach Tim Miles, are 3-8 in the Big Ten and 12-12 overall.

The game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network with Eric Collins and Shon Morris on the call:

Indiana’s final conference single play of the season, Nebraska, has struggled to find its footing since joining the Big Ten last season. The Cornhuskers are 7-22 over their first 29 Big Ten regular season games with one of the wins coming against the Hoosiers last January in Lincoln. If you believe Indiana has forgotten about that late collapse and subsequent loss, think again. Tom Crean was asked about it on Monday’s Big Ten teleconference and the returning Hoosiers are well aware that it was a game they let slip away.

Miles, who took over for Doc Sadler last March, brings a lot of energy and passion to a program that has an uphill battle to become competitive in one of the nation’s best leagues. Picked by many to finish last in the league, Nebraska has two of its wins over Penn State, which was knocked to the cellar when Tim Frazier suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. The Cornhuskers are just 2-6 in road games this season and their last road outing ended in a 19-point defeat at the hands of Minnesota.

PERSONNEL

While Miles has achieved making his team somewhat respectable defensively, this group’s woeful production on offense is the reason it’s unlikely to win another game. Senior Dylan Talley and junior Ray Gallegos are both logging more than 35 minutes per game in the backcourt and neither player is shy about hoisting up shots.

The 6-foot-5 Talley (pictured) is using 26 percent of Nebraska’s possessions and is shooting just 36.7 percent on twos and 31.8 percent on threes. Gallegos is more efficient from the field with an effective field goal percentage of 49.3. Gallegos has attempted 197 threes and is connecting on just 31 percent of those attempts, but has a strong percentage (54.7) on twos. Neither player turns the ball over much in large part because much of what Miles likes to do offensively involves running the shot clock down on every possession. The Cornhuskers are playing at the fourth slowest pace in conference games, averaging just 61.8 possessions.

Sophomore David Rivers has been starting as of late and at 6-foot-7 gives Miles some size and a player who likes to attack the basket. Rivers scored 13 points in a recent 63-56 loss to Ohio State. Freshman point guard Benny Parker, who has started 16 of the team’s 24 games, is now coming off the bench thanks to a turnover rate (33.4 percent) that simply isn’t sustainable in the Nebraska offense. By comparison, Yogi Ferrell’s turnover percentage is 25.2 on a team that pushes the ball on nearly every possession. Shavon Shields, who averages 7.4 points per game, has a Big Ten freshman of the week award under his belt after scoring 47 points in a week in late January.

Brandon Ubel is easily the closest thing to a reliable frontcourt option on Nebraska’s roster. At 6-foot-10 and 234 pounds, Ubel is third on the roster in scoring at 11.9 points per game and sets the pace on the boards with 6.7 per game. Ubel has been fairly effective at drawing fouls in the post (45.2 free throw rate) and shoots close to 79 percent from the foul line. Both Ubel and Andre Almeida, who stands 6-foot-11 and weighs 314 pounds, are solid on the defensive glass and shoot better than 50 percent on twos.

POMEROY PREVIEW

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As mentioned briefly earlier, Nebraska’s offense has struggled in nearly every category. In Big Ten play, the Cornhuskers rank 10th in both 2-point and 3-point field goal percentage and are scoring just .90 points per possession, which only tops winless Penn State. Not only does Nebraska miss a ton of shots, they don’t crash the offensive boards at all which is a recipe for a lot of one-and-outs. One thing they do well is take care of the ball. They’re only turning up the ball on 16 percent of possessions in league play, the third best percentage among Big Ten teams.

Defensively, Nebraska is holding conference opponents to just 28.2 percent shooting from behind the 3-point arc, but even if the Hoosiers do face some resistance in that area, there will be plenty of other deficiencies to attack. Conference opponents are getting to the foul line at a high rate (40.7 free throw rate) and grabbing plenty of offensive rebounds (33.7 OR%) against Nebraska, which plays right into two of Indiana’s biggest strengths.

While Nebraska will look to establish pace and burn as much of the shot clock as possible, the likelihood of the Cornhuskers being able to make enough shots to keep this game close is not high.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

Pomeroy likes Indiana to win 80-54 with a 98% chance of the Hoosiers moving to 10-2 in the conference. On paper, the Hoosiers are significantly better almost across the board and while Nebraska might be the toughest Big Ten opponent to get up for, the fact that the Cornhuskers knocked off IU last season provides a bit of a revenge factor.

Ubel should provide a decent test in the post for Cody Zeller, but Nebraska’s perimeter players are completely outmatched and Victor Oladipo could make for a very long night for Talley. If Indiana shoots a reasonable percentage from outside and gets to the foul line, Nebraska will struggle to keep up with the nation’s top offense in the Big Ten’s toughest environment.

QUOTABLE

“There’s no doubt that we’ll go back and look at part of that film. We didn’t finish the job there. That definitely plays into it, but there’s a fine line between their memory and their future. And their future right now has gotta be ‘OK, are we gonna be better today? Are we going to be better tomorrow? Are we going to absolutely be locked into what makes us better?'” — Crean on the Big Ten call when asked if he feels a sense of unfinished business from his team after losing at Nebraska last season.

All tempo-free stats via KenPom.com.

  • notfargj

    it goes without saying but we can’t look past anyone this year. given sunday’s effort, we should be dialed in and focused.

  • 5_Banners

    What to Expect: Indiana winning by 20+

  • 5_Banners

    What to Expect: Indiana winning by 20+

  • iudawg

    Never been more aggravated by a loss in the last few years than the one we let slip away at Nebraska last year…until Thursday night’s meltdown at Illinois. Payback’s gonna be fun to watch.

  • Old Hoosier

    When you see how IU can play, per Sunday’s performance, you know they are good enough to beat anyone in the country. And what’s better is that these are great kids! I love to root for all of them! And I will say it, we have a great coach and coaching staff. There are too many who attack Coach Crean every time something goes wrong.

  • PDXHoosier

    Nebraska’s first trip to Assembly Hall as a member of the Big Ten. good luck

  • xCowHoosier

    Would love to see Jurkin get some PT in this one…

  • SCHoosier

    IU should take care of business early at home. Ubel is a very good big man..his replacement I think is 6-11 and 325 pounds. The guards like to put it up..but the games I’ve seen this year..they didn’t shoot well at all. We play IU defense…and Hoosiers should end up in the win column by a good margin.

  • notfargj

    there’s far more upside to coach crean than some people give him credit for. not unlike his players, he is always working to improve, can’t ask for more.

  • HoosierTrav

    Nebraska! I havent forgot about what you did to us last year. In, fact, Illinois just reminded me of the gift we gave you in Lincoln. We want that back… and some.

  • CreanFaithful

    apparently he is injured…

  • HoosierTrav

    I know this isnt the correct mind set to have but I really am looking forward to this Saturday and next Tuesday. win 3 straight and we have a GREAT chance and winning the B1G outright. I’m ready to see what this team is made of.

  • SCHoosier

    If IU needs “between big game” motivation…the MSU smashing of UM ought to do it. Got to hand it to Izzo..plays’em tough early..takes his lumps..gets rid of the wrinkles..develops his team and charges home hard. Have to say they are probably the team to beat for the B-10 title right now with Harris a dead-eye from 3 and Payne having developed as a big man. Next Tuesday game up there could decide the B-10 title altho I realize there are some tough games to play for everybody. Izzo has to love where his team is right now. I like where IU is right now but I hate our remaining schedule with away games at MSU MN and UM. We’ll sure have earned it if we get it.

  • calbert40

    Nebraska is the team I know the least about in the B1G. I watched them play UM in Ann Arbor earlier in the year, and they gave UM a good game. I fully expect IU to win by 20+, but they can cause you some grief if you play down at their level.

    Based on CTC’s tweets yesterday, though, I fully expect this team to serve up some cold revenge tonight.

  • CreamandCrimson

    “We’ll sure have earned it if we get it”. Very, very true.

    MSU is at Nebraska, then it’s IU at home, at OSU, at Michigan and Wisconsin at home. IU can win in East Lansing but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect it. In my opinion, that’s our toughest remaining game. Still, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if MSU finished 14-4 with losses at OSU and Michigan. There’s a ton of work left to do. First things first, take care of business at home this week.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Nebraska will attempt to play this game in the 40s and 50s. They are a very poor version of Wisconsin (tempo-wise). It will probably won’t be a real fun watch or a really great performance. The bottom line is tonight is the result, not the performance. Take care of business, get the win, keep everyone healthy and move on to do the same against the Boilermakers.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    So what happened to the ITH chats during the games? Behind the paywall, I assume?

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    this team isn’t afraid nor will it play afraid like UM did last night. respect for Neb& PUke but i can’t stop thinking about the game in East Lansing…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Fischer/691470077 Steve Fischer

    I read in a Nebraska newspaper that their players will be watching the Wisconsin -IU Tape to see how they can beat us. I hope 1. We watch it too and 2. We show them how much we have learned and improved since then.

  • InTheMtns

    Thought maybe Alex would answer this but since it’s game time and he hasn’t, I’ll tell you what I know. Not at all sure why ITH isn’t doing the chat but you can still participate in that chat over on the Hoosier Scoop. As for what happens on the forum (behind the paywall), Alex starts an open thread and he and Justin update it several times with game status. Usually there are a few comments by other members, but it’s not really an active chat like the one you’re asking about.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    Thanks.

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