What to expect: Nebraska

  • 02/20/2018 9:24 am in

Indiana wraps up its regular season road schedule tonight as the Hoosiers face Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Cornhuskers are 20-9 overall and 11-5 in Big Ten play.

The game will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Stephen Bardo on the call:

Indiana will be no worse than the No. 7 seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament in New York City, but the Hoosiers can still move up to the No. 5 or 6 seed in the bracket with two regular season games remaining.

Up first is a road trip to Lincoln to face Nebraska, which is trying to get on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble. That task became much tougher for the Cornhuskers after a Sunday loss at Illinois. Nebraska needs wins this week against Indiana and Penn State to get back into the conversation and then will have work to do next week in Madison Square Garden.

After being picked to finish 13th in the Big Ten in the preseason, Nebraska is one of the Big Ten’s surprise teams after significant roster turnover in the offseason. The Cornhuskers have already clinched a finish in the top half of the league standings and a pair of transfers, James Palmer and Isaac Copeland, have given Tim Miles some goodwill with the fanbase after falling out of favor the last few seasons.

MEET THE CORNHUSKERS

Palmer, a transfer from Miami (FL), is in the conversation for first team All-Big Ten and might just get there if Nebraska can take care of business this week in its two home games.

A native of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Palmer had a limited role at Miami in two seasons before opting to transfer to play for Nebraska. In conference play, he’s second in the league in scoring at 19.6 points per game and is one of the league’s best at getting to the free throw line. Palmer is second in the Big Ten in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) at 57.8 percent and he’s knocking down 77.2 percent of his attempts in conference games. His assist rate (26.5 percent) also ranks eleventh in the league.

Copeland, who transferred from Georgetown, is a dangerous inside-out threat. The 6-foot-9 forward is shooting an efficient 55.2 percent on 2s and 43.6 percent on 3s in Big Ten games. He’s averaging 13.3 points in league play.

Isaiah Roby, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, is a versatile forward who can also shoot it from deep (41.2 percent) and get into the lane and finish. Roby leads the Big Ten in free throw rate (61.9 percent) and is knocking down 69.2 percent of his attempts in league play. He’s also Nebraska’s best rebounder as he ranks 11th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage and 19th in defensive rebounding percentage.

Point guard Glynn Watson Jr. had an excellent sophomore season, but has regressed from an efficiency standpoint as a junior. He is still a solid distributor (19.7 percent assist rate in Big Ten play), but is shooting below 30 percent on 2s and 3s in league play.

Senior Anton Gill starts next to Watson in the backcourt and leads the Cornhuskers with 50 made 3-pointers this season. Another senior Evan Taylor, comes off the bench and averages 6.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 26 minutes per game. Freshman Thomas Allen turned down a Kansas offer to come to Nebraska and is shooting 35.6 percent on 3s.

Sophomore Jordy Tshimanga, who is 6-foot-11, is a back to the basket post player that is finishing just 47.3 percent of his 2s on the season and is a poor free throw shooter at 56.4 percent.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

These teams are very close in efficiency margin with Indiana have a slightly better defense and Nebraska owning an edge offensively in league play.

One number that stands out is Nebraska’s poor rebounding numbers on both ends. The Cornhuskers are the Big Ten’s worst defensive rebounding team and are just 11th in offensive rebounding percentage. Indiana’s ability to get second chance points looms large, particularly against an opponent that is unlikely to give up the clean looks that Iowa allowed over the weekend from the perimeter.

Where Nebraska excels offensively is in taking care of the ball and getting to the foul line. Both Roby and Palmer are excellent at attacking the rim and drawing fouls and Watson, despite his shooting woes, does a good job of running the team without turning it over.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The KenPom projection is Nebraska by 4 with just a 33 percent chance for an Indiana victory. The Vegas line favors Nebraska by 4 as of early Tuesday morning while Sagarin likes Nebraska by just under three.

The Cornhuskers have been excellent at Pinnacle Bank Arena this season with their lone loss coming back on Dec. 16 to Kansas by one point. Their average margin of victory in seven Big Ten home games thus far is 9.3 points, which includes a 20-point trouncing of Michigan on Jan. 18.

After Sunday’s disappointing loss at Illinois, it’s no stretch to say that Nebraska is desperate for a win to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive. Indiana has three Big Ten road wins already on its ledger, but will have to be at its best to pull off the upset in one of the league’s toughest road environments.

(Photo credit: Huskers.com)

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  • Dave Nelson

    Yea it’s not the best, but you can’t take the Hoosier out of me and make me a Cornhusker. Not gonna happen, have my IU gear on and ready to go into the enemies house. GO HOOSIERS!!

  • Bill Graham

    I’m going to say this now and hopefully it doesn’t happen but it is NOT the time for any home cooking… if we ever have a game where the refs take us out of it… our boys will be watching the dance from the NIT locker room

  • Brian Rosenthal

    Welcome to Lincoln!

  • Brian Rosenthal

    It’s not that bad. We got ourselves running water last year!!

  • Bill Graham

    That’ a way Dave give em hell!!!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    I actually like Lincoln. Been there several times.

  • Dave Nelson

    Thank you Sir, should be a good game. I really do like Lincoln. Daughter went to UNL.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Don’t forget The Hopp, RIP!!!!

  • Guyton25

    I’ve been saying both those wins and 2 in the BIG tourney will be our only chance at 20-13 (unless we win the BIG tourney, lol).

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    The Bluebird!!!! Wow what a place.

  • William Stephens

    I think something overlooked by many fans is the fact that B1G leadership condensed the schedules, causing many B1G games to be played on two day turnarounds. Very difficult to prepare and look your best. Then add that Indiana lost a lot from last season and got a new coach and system causing their early season games to be a learning experience, that will hurt them on selection Sunday. They have developed into a team that should have been included in the NCAA if they had not done so poorly in the pre-season. They played Duke tough, Louisville in Louisville very tough, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan tough. Consider that many of those were two day turnarounds. The B1G is better than many “experts” think!

  • AndyCapp

    Iowa game??? I think we already took care of that business

  • AndyCapp

    Guess you were keeping them in business! 😉

  • RonMlarkey

    What makes you think tonight is the night he gets minutes ,nothing has changed.. He will play next year when hes ready.

  • AndyCapp

    I think Coach has his first 8 already set and doesn’t include CM. I doubt he will see much if anything tonight

  • AndyCapp

    Yes it was! Of course we are showing our “maturity” with the mere mention 😉

  • Dave Nelson

    Nope, ha ha…it’s game time!!!!!!!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    LOL!!!! My bet,t he managers of The Hopp and Bluebird were most elated when I graduated.

  • gokartmozart89

    How is that related to the Nebraska game?

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    If they selection committee is willing to overlook performance when a team had a key player unavailable due to injury, I think they should certainly be willing to take into consideration a situation with a brand new coach with an abruptly different approach to coaching emphasis and style of play, who was installing a completely new defensive scheme at a program. The trajectory of the season has unquestionably been upward…

  • Bill Graham

    Dave I’m sorry you live in Nebraska that must be awful. Glad to hear we have a Hoosier in the stands

  • Donnie Vick

    Lol I actually like izzo. He’ll be fortunate to survive the mess there though

  • eljay

    I’d be delighted to be wrong, but I think the selection committee won’t overlook the losses to ISU and IPFW, especially given the margins in those games. Win the B10 tourney and we’re in the dance.

    I think we get into the NIT, and if so, we may be able to make some noise.

    Either way, if I’m on a selection committee, I want to find a way to include this team. They’re fun to watch and gritty tough.

    They certainly appear to be on the up tick as the season comes to a close.

  • gokartmozart89

    You’re absolutely correct. I meant Nebraska. I fixed that, thanks for pointing it out.

  • gokartmozart89

    Is asking a simple question a dramatic act? It’s not like I capitalized all the letter in one of my words.

    Kicking one’s neighbor while their down isn’t exactly wise. We weren’t riding too high 10 years ago either. Glass houses, bro.

  • AndyCapp

    MB’s: Best pizza… EVER!

  • coachv

    no. pagliai’s was way better

  • eljay

    Short of winning Sunday against OSU and making it to the conference tourney final game, I don’t see an invite to the NCAA tourney this time around. Next year will be a different story.

    As for this year, I truly hope the committee sees things as you do!

    However, given the pre-season predictions for this team, I’m not going to be at all upset with an NIT run for this gritty bunch.