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Minnesota Basketball: Previewing Nebraska

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Gophers look to rebound after Ohio State blowout

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It was an ugly one in Columbus on Sunday night, where the Gophers were decimated in every way possible en route to a 20-point loss to the 16th-ranked Buckeyes. For Minnesota, it was another trip through the house of horrors that is Value City Arena, and extended the winless drought to 14 years. Yuck.

The game was over almost from the jump, with the Gophers failing to notch their second field goal until nearly 11 minutes had gone by. They never recovered. It was the second time in three games that poor shooting doomed them to a loss, and furthered a disturbing trend of shooting incompetence that has plagued them since their second game in the Vancouver Showcase. We’re dangerously close to an epidemic.

Things don’t get much easier as the Big Ten conference appetizer continues when Minnesota hosts Nebraska on Wednesday night. The 7-1 Huskers carry one of the nation’s top defenses and are coming off a 15-point victory over lowly Illinois. They’ve also beaten Seton Hall and nabbed a road victory at Clemson. To be fair, they ran into a brick wall against Texas Tech, scoring just 52 points against the Red Raiders. So they can be stopped.

The Gophers could have an opportunity to turn the tides in what has become a downturn from their early season success. A win rights the ship just in time for a series of low-major matchups to round out the non-conference season. A loss mires them in an 0-2 start to the conference season, putting them in an unenviable hole to begin with.

Essentials:

Who are the Gophers playing?

Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-1)

What time are they playing?

Wednesday, Dec. 5 @ 8 p.m. CT

Where are they playing?

Williams Arena

Can I watch the game on TV?

Yes, BTN.

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes, KFAN 100.3-FM

Tell me more about the opponent.

For this one, we’ve looped in Patrick (@patrickgerhart) from Corn Nation to give us some deeper insight into Nebraska and what to expect.

TDG: Nebraska missed out on the NCAA Tournament despite going 13-5 in Big Ten play. What are the expectations for this year?

CN: Yeah, not a lot of people in the Cornhusker State were too happy about missing out on the tournament. However, they ended up with a poor seed in the NIT, and an away game at, that down in Mississippi. This also angered up the fan base. Nebraska ended up getting beat by Mississippi State in that poorly played NIT game and their season was done. After that the “I’m upset with the NCAA selection committee” chatter went away. Whether the team wasn’t into the game or the tournament committee just proved they weren’t that good of a team was there and quieted everyone who was squawking.

With that said, they were still a good squad last year. Hey, we were one of the teams that beat Michigan. That counts for something, right? A majority of that team from last year is back, which is huge. I think most people believe that this year is make or break for Tim Miles. He has a seasoned and talented squad returning and a schedule that is tough but not too bad. I think most believe that the Huskers should make the NCAA Tournament with a good enough seed to win at least one game.

TDG: What’s been the biggest surprise so far this season for the Huskers?

CN: Honestly, I don’t think there have been too many surprises this year. Nebraska has played fairly well up to this point. They beat every team they should have minus Texas Tech and there they just ran into a large team with a very good defense. Miles finally has these guys running as a well oiled machine.

TDG: Nebraska has only lost once this season, but what needs to happen for them to be beaten?

CN: Nebraska can be beaten by a strong defense and keeping them from getting in the paint. Considering they are a little bit deficient at size, that could be done. Nebraska has been a better shooting team this year but they can still go through scoring droughts. They had a few that killed them in the loss to Texas Tech. Playing on the road in the Big Ten is tough. Regardless of what team you are playing. Williams Arena can try to also shake their confidence if the crowd gets into the game early on.

TDG: The Huskers have high marks in many KenPom defensive categories. What’s been happening with the defense?

CN: Coach Tim Miles has historically fielded teams with good defense. This squad has played long enough together that they know what they need to do. They also adjust fairly well in the middle of the game if the offense they are running against is giving them problems. They’ve also played a few teams that have made them look really good in that area. Mississippi Valley State, Western Illinois and Southeastern Louisiana are schedule fillers, not heavy foes. If anything, those stats might be a little padded. But, they’ve had enough decent competition that while those stats are probably high, they are not terribly far off.

TDG: What are three Husker-related things Gopher fans should watch for in Wednesday’s game?

  1. Isiah Roby getting a lane inside and dunking on whatever hapless Gopher is below him.
  2. Our site manager and fearful leader, Jon Johnston, taking pictures on the sideline. He’s tall, wears glasses, and sports a very fine mustache. If you see him, tell him “hi” and buy him some walleye fries. Man, I love those things. I really need to make a trip back up for another game. Anyway, moving on...
  3. Honestly, look for James Palmer Jr., Issac Copleand, and Glynn Watson Jr. All three will give the Gophers trouble on both sides of the ball. If two of these three get hot then it could be an early night in Minneapolis.

TDG: Prediction time: how do you think this game ends up?

CN: I see Nebraska scoring a lot and early. What I hope they don’t do is look ahead to the Creighton game on Saturday. This team seems to have it together enough to take care of the game at hand. University of Nebraska 73 — University of Minnesota 67