What to Expect: Nebraska at Indiana

  • 02/21/2024 7:08 am in

Indiana returns to action Wednesday night against Nebraska at Assembly Hall. The Huskers are 18-8 overall and 8-7 in Big Ten play.

Wednesday’s game will tip at 8:30 p.m. ET on BTN:

With a 4-8 record over the last 12 games, Indiana is barreling towards a Wednesday spot in the Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis next month. The Hoosiers have lost two straight conference home games (Penn State and Northwestern) and its only wins this calendar year have come against Ohio State (twice), Minnesota and Iowa.

Nebraska, meanwhile, comes to Bloomington in desperate need of a win and a season sweep of the Hoosiers. The Huskers are 0-7 in conference road games and are currently one of the last teams in the NCAA tournament field, according to bracketologist Andy Bottoms. A win on Wednesday would help strengthen Nebraska’s March Madness resume.


Nebraska beat Indiana 86-70 in Lincoln on Jan. 3 in a disastrous performance for the Hoosiers.

The Huskers hit 12 3-pointers against Indiana at Pinnacle Bank Arena as Keisei Tominaga (four 3s), Brice Williams (three 3s) and CJ Wilcher (three 3s) all turned in strong performances.

But it wasn’t just Nebraska’s solid 3-point shooting that was the difference. Indiana turned the ball over 19 times in the loss, leading to 27 points for the Huskers.

The turnovers came from all over the roster as Xavier Johnson, Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau each committed four.

“We basically gifted them 27 points on turnovers,” Mike Woodson said in his postgame press conference. “That was, I thought, the difference in the game tonight.”

The loss also exposed Indiana’s suspect guard play for the first time in conference play. The Hoosiers entered the early January contest 2-0 in Big Ten games, but that prosperity was short-lived due to IU’s inept guard play to start the new year.

Xavier Johnson returned from an injury against the Huskers but logged 14 minutes and didn’t score. Trey Galloway was the only guard to score in double figures in the loss with 10 points but was just 4-for-10 from the field with three turnovers. And Gabe Cupps, Anthony Leal and CJ Gunn contributed little statistically in the loss.

In a postgame interview with Don Fischer, Woodson characterized the guard play for the Hoosiers as “awful.”

The bright spot for Indiana in the loss was Kel’el Ware, who returned from a one-game absence due to COVID-19 to score 20 points with 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and two steals in 34 minutes.

Beyond the strong night from Ware, it was an evening to forget for Indiana.


All stats in the graphic below are via KenPom.com, are updated through Monday’s games and are for conference games only.

The strength of Nebraska’s offense comes from its perimeter shooting. The Huskers rank first in the Big Ten in both percentage of field goal attempts from 3 (42.3) and point distribution from 3s (37.3). Indiana is already familiar with Nebraska’s 3-point-heavy offense from the first matchup when the Huskers hit 12-for-32 from distance.

While Nebraska doesn’t get to the free throw line at a high clip – its free throw rate (FTA/FGA) is just 30.2 percent – the Huskers are shooting 78.7 from the stripe. That ranks second in the Big Ten. Indiana, by contrast, is shooting 63.4 percent from the line, which ranks last in the league.

Like Indiana, Nebraska is a poor rebounding team on both ends, ranking 14th in offensive rebounding percentage and 11th in defensive rebounding percentage in the league. The Huskers have also struggled to take care of the ball, ranking just 10th in the conference in turnover percentage.


The KenPom projection is Nebraska by two with a 42 percent chance of an Indiana victory. According to Pomeroy, this is the best chance for a win of IU’s remaining six regular season games.

Nebraska’s struggles on the road in Big Ten play are well-documented. The Huskers are 0-7 with an average margin of defeat of 12.4 points. Just two of Nebraska’s road conference losses have come by single digits.

As Woodson has repeatedly referenced, Indiana has played well “in spurts” this season but has been unable to put together many complete games all season. The Hoosiers have the talent to win games, but fundamentals like blocking out, making free throws and hustling for 50/50 balls have been absent in plenty of their losses.

With back-to-back losses on the ledger and the postseason a long shot, Woodson has vowed to keep his team from “throwing in the towel.” Wednesday will be Indiana’s next chance to prove it still has some fight left.

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