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Men’s basketball preview: Desperate Gophers host Nebraska

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Minnesota looks to right ship after recent losing streak

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Michigan State Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a true backslide now, folks. The Gophers have taken any sort of goodwill they had from early season success — where they were projected as high as a 4-seed in the tournament and ranked as high as #16 — and mutated it into a rotten concoction of road and home losses that now has them approaching bubble team territory. It would be horrifying if it wasn’t so predictable.

To be fair, they finally didn’t lose by 20 points on the road, instead choosing to take the more entertaining route of giving up a late lead through mistakes and hero ball in the most recent loss to Rutgers. Minnesota has now lost five of six including three straight in what was supposed to be the “easier” portion of the schedule.

If there was ever a savior in this apocalypse it is the faithfully listless Nebraska Cornhuskers. In a year when the Big Ten is effectively excellent from top to bottom, the Huskers stand alone as the conference’s worst team. At it’s rawest it’s an opportunity for a win to get back on track at home against a team that has yet to win a conference game, hasn’t won a conference game in 23 tries, and only returned from month-long hiatus on Saturday.

It’s also February. Proceed with caution.

Essentials:

Opponent:

Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-9, 0-6)

Date and Time:

Monday, Feb. 8 @ 7 p.m. CT

Location:

Williams Arena

TV:

BTN

Radio:

KFAN or KTLK

Tell me more about the opponent.

It’s not looking good for Nebraska this year folks. Off to a very rough start to begin the season, the Huskers were 4-8 and 0-5 in the conference before they had to suspend play due to COVID complications. That put them on hold for a few weeks and canceled several games, including one with the Gophers. They finally got back on the court on Saturday against Michigan State and lost by 10.

So far this year things have been far from rosy. They are shooting terribly (somehow worse than Minnesota), have been terrible from the line, aren’t collecting many rebounds and are letting opponents score fairly easily. Minnesota hasn’t been much better, save for the free throw shooting, but Nebraska has downright ugly on offense.

Their four wins are hardly notable: McNeese St., NDSU, South Dakota and Doane, an NAIA school. Other than that they’ve been losing regularly by double digits and haven’t kept a game within seven points since Dec. 17. In fact, they haven’t won a Big Ten game since last January. It’s a prime opportunity for a win for Minnesota.

Junior guard Teddy Allen leads the way for the Huskers as he’s averaging 17 ppg and nearly 5 rpg. He’s also been shooting quite a few threes and ranks in the top 10 in the conference in threes per game.

Delano Banton checks in with 12 ppg and nearly 7 rpg while Trey McGowans is the team’s third leading scorer with 11.5 ppg.

Predictions

It’s not must-win but if the Gophers don’t beat Nebraska at home to give themselves some breathing room there are going to be a lot of questions popping up about the team’s, uh, “efficacy.” On paper they should dust the Huskers, but it’s still a conference game where anything can happen. Let’s hope the chalk plays out at.

Gophers 75, Huskers 65