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3 keys and a prediction for Nebraska Basketball vs Illinois



Nebraska basketball
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska basketball has a huge game tonight against Illinois and here are three keys and a prediction for the Huskers.

Following an important win over Minnesota on Saturday, Nebraska basketball will be back inside the Vault on Tuesday night for a huge matchup against Illinois.

The Fighting Illini were projected by many to be a favorite in the Big Ten conference but have started 1-3. However, they did get their first win over the weekend in the Big Ten against 14th-ranked Wisconsin.

Brad Underwood is one of the Big Ten’s best coaches and Illinois is solid defensively once again. The Illini are one of the best 2-point defensive teams in the country and rank 15th in 2-point percentage defense (42.6). They also hold teams to 38 percent shooting overall which ranks 29th in all of college basketball.

Their defensive rating is .90 which ranks 24th in all of college basketball too, so as much as Nebraska basketball will need its own defense to deliver, the offense needs to come through too.

We have talked about what Nebraska basketball needs to do to reach the postseason (NIT or better) and that includes winning at least nine conference games. The Huskers are 2-3 and this is a winnable game at home, so it’s one they need.

Here are three keys and a prediction.

Derrick Walker needs another big night

Scoring against Illinois isn’t going to be easy. The Illini only give up 64 points per game and are among the best teams in college basketball at forcing turnovers.

Nebraska will have some sloppy moments. That’s going to happen. But what’s going to be important is playing in the half-court and feeding the ball inside to Walker. We saw how that worked in the second half against Minnesota and the Huskers can’t get away from him.

Illinois is a strong defensive team but Walker is one of the best post-scorers in the Big Ten. Dain Dainja has been a decent rim protector but Walker should be able to score on him or any other Illinois defender.

Nobody has been able to slow down Walker in the paint and if he can be effective (scoring and creating for others) tonight against the Illini, Nebraska basketball will have a good shot at pulling the upset as a 3.5-point home underdog.

Don’t lose the turnover battle

This is where Sam Griesel comes in. He’s going to need to be great tonight playing point guard. His scoring and defense will be important but keeping the tempo in Nebraska’s favor will be key.

The slower the pace, the better for Nebraska.

If Illinois forces Nebraska to turn the ball over 15 times, that’s not going to be a good sign for the Huskers. They need to be efficient and not allow points off turnovers or in transition.

Illinois has a number of talented 3-point shooters in Terrence Shannon, Matthew Mayer, Coleman Hawkins, and Jayden Epps — all average more than one trey per game.

What Nebraska can’t do is allow Illinois to get easy looks attacking the bucket and open looks from three in transition. That’s what happened against Michigan State and this Illinois team will very much look to do the same thing which the exception that the Illini are elite when it comes to forcing turnovers.

Nebraska basketball turns it over 12.5 times per game but forces 12.9 and if the Huskers can keep even with Illinois in that regard, that will be another big step toward winning this game.

Keisei and Wilcher need to get hot

Illinois doesn’t allow teams to shoot a ton of 3-pointers (19 per game). Illinois averages 27 per game but Illinois allows 32.5 percent makes from beyond the arc which is 159th.

It’s their worst defensive metric in terms of shooting percentage. Essentially, they want to force you to take difficult 2-pointers. You have to be able to make one-on-one plays against the Illini and I think Nebraska can.

Sam Griesel and Derrick Walker are both weapons in the post. Illinois will double and guys like Keisei Tominaga and CJ Wilcher are going to have to hit shots. Illinois allows 6.2 3-point makes per game and Nebraksa is going to have to exceed that number (7-8) in order to win this game.

Nebraska is a home dog and in order to pull an upset like this, your shooters need to make shots. Walker and Griesel will get them some good looks, it’s just a matter of knocking them down.

Nebraska basketball vs Illinois prediction

As important as it was to beat Creighton and Iowa, this would be the biggest win of the season. Illinois is viewed by many as a legitimate Big Ten contender and this team is the real deal despite its 1-3 record.

There’s a huge difference for Nebraska between 3-3 and 2-4 in the Big Ten. It’s not necessarily a must-win game but if the Huskers win this one, this program will have some very real momentum.

I think it’s going to be insanely loud in the Vault and I’m going to say Nebraska squeaks out a 65-62 win.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers news: Jeff Sims still not 100 percent, a flip attempt, and more



Nebraska football
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football QB Jeff Sims still isn’t 100 percent, plus more Nebraska Cornhuskers news.

One thing we know for sure about the Nebraska football quarterback situation is that we won’t know anything until kickoff on Saturday against Louisiana Tech.

Matt Rhule said that he won’t be making any announcements prior to the game, similar to last week, about the starting quarterback. Marcus Satterfield told reporters on Tuesday that Sims took “50-55 percent of the snaps” so he’s improving, but according to Rhule, he’s still not 100 percent.

Rhule indicated that Sims is throwing the ball well. The Nebraska Cornhuskers just want to see some more movement skills out of their starting quarterback. One of the starting quarterbacks I should say since Sims and Heinrich Haarberg were listed as co-starters this week on the depth chart.

We’ll see how it plays out. If Sims is healthy, I expect that he will get the start or at least play, but with how thin Nebraska football is at running back, both quarterbacks will probably be needed, especially with their prowess for pounding the rock.

Nebraska Cornhuskers aiming to flip Michigan State 4-star

Andrew Dennis is a 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive lineman rated as a four-star prospect by the 247 Sports composite rankings. He’s out of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and has been committed to Michigan State since April but Nebraska football is one of many programs to throw out a recent offer.

We don’t know if Dennis has any plans to visit Nebraska football. He’s been offered by Auburn, Stanford, Penn State, and Purdue just since Monday. I wouldn’t get too serious worrying about Dennis until he takes a visit to Nebraska, but if that happens, watch out.

It’s at least a name to keep on the radar and a decommitment definitely seems possible with the situation going on at Michigan State with Mel Tucker getting fired.

Nebraska Cornhuskers Big Ten basketball schedule released

We knew which teams Nebraska basketball would play in the 2023-24 Big Ten season but got the official schedule on Tuesday. The Huskers released it on their official Twitter account.

Nebraska basketball will open Big Ten on December 6th against Minnesota on the road. Fred Hoiberg’s first conference home game will be against Michigan State on December 10th.

The schedule is fairly balanced in terms of the home and road games. The Huskers have consecutive home games twice on the conference schedule. Nebraska has also back-to-back road games twice.

My first impressions though, are that Nebraska basketball is capable of a winning season in Big Ten play, which would definitely keep Fred Hoiberg in place and likely, would give the Huskers a realistic shot at making their first NCAA tournament since the 2014 season.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers news: Matt Rhule runs a tight ship, momentum with Caleb Benning, and more



Nebraska Cornhuskers
Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The Nebraska Cornhuskers opened fall camp on Monday and Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule runs a tight ship, plus a Caleb Benning update, and more.

You got the idea that Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule was going to take an old-school approach when he announced the Nebraska Cornhuskers would be spending the first two weeks of camp in the dorms.

But on Monday, the old-school approach continued.

Over the weekend, there were tons of rumors circulating among Nebraska football fans on Twitter about Myles Farmer and his status for the 2023 season. As it turns out, he was suspended by coach Rhule.

Rhule didn’t say why, just that Farmer didn’t live up to the standard. Rhule did say it was up to Farmer and his actions in regard to returning to the Nebraska Cornhuskers this season. Farmer started 11 games last season for Nebraska fotoball and was one of the team’s leading tacklers.

Another starting defensive back, Marques Buford is also missing the start of camp due to injury rehab.  Omar Brown and Corey Collier will have to step up, but the progress of Farmer will be something to watch.

Nebraska football making an impression on Caleb Benning

It’s clear that Nebraska football is trending up in the recruitment of in-state athlete Caleb Benning. The 5-foot-11, 183-pound defensive back/wide receiver, visited the Huskers again on Monday to take in practice.

All told it was the third unofficial visit of the past week for Benning. He visited early last week when the dead period ended and was also part of the “Cookout” on Sunday when more than 30 Nebraska football recruits were on campus.

In an interview with Steve Marik, Benning has even talked about a potential update to his timeline. He’s been saying that he will announce a commitment in December, but if he decides to commit sooner, I think that would be a great sign for Nebraska football.

I know the Huskers could land Amare Sanders and I hope they do. However, that shouldn’t impact Benning. Nebraska football is showing that he’s a priority and my prediction is that he’s N before it’s all said and done.

More Nebraska Cornhuskers news

  • The Nebraska basketball team made its debut on the trip to Spain and won its first game in overtime. Nebraska only had six scholarship players available, so you can only take away so much, but Brice Williams was spectacular with 28 points, five rebounds, and four assists in the 89-84 win over the Madrid All-Stars. CJ Wilcher had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Jamarques Lawrence pitched in with 14. Rienk Mast was playing with the Netherlands in international play and also had a stellar showing, scoring 26 points and making 6-of-10 3-pointers. So far, so good for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in terms of the portal.
  • While plenty of highlights and photos surfaced from day one of Nebraska football camp, maybe the highlight that stood out the most was Tristan Alvano’s 50-yard field goal in practice. The freshman is battling for the starting kicking job and my money is on him to win it.

Final Nebraska Football 2023 game-by-game predictions

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3 thoughts on commitment of Matar Diop to Nebraska basketball



Nebraska basketball
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Fred Hoiberg landed another player for the 2023 Nebraska basketball roster on Sunday with the commitment of Matar Diop and here are three thoughts for the Huskers.

It was fair to wonder if Nebraska basketball was going to add another scholarship player for the 2023-24 season, but we got the answer on Sunday with the commitment of Matar Diop.

Diop is a 6-foot-9 power forward. He’s not ranked according to the 247 Sports composite rankings and doesn’t even have a 247 Sports profile that I could find.

However, Diop is from Senegal and recently spent time with the NBA Africa Program. Here are some highlights from his time there.

Nebraska basketball needed a big man and has a lot to offer Diop, so this makes sense for both sides — here are three thoughts on his commitment.

An upside addition for the Huskers

Diop is eligible to play in 2023 for Nebraska baskeball which was the first question most Husker fans had. However, I wouldn’t expect to see Diop on the floor a ton this season if at all.

Blaise Keita is going to have a role off the bench as a 4/5 man. If he gets injured or if there is another injury in the frontcourt, Diop could see some minutes.

Yet, this feels a lot like the Eli Rice commitment except Diop will spend his extra year as a redshirt. Rice took an extra year and went to the IMG Academy.

Some recruiting sites had Diop listed as a 2024 recruit, so he could have had that plan too. But Seton Hall, Ole Miss, Arizona State, Saint Joseph’s, and Charlotte all offered. Those are some high-major offers and this is a really good get this late in the recruiting cycle.

You can see from Diop’s highlights that he’s an exceptional athlete. He also looks like a plus defender but he gets above the rim with ease and will be one of the most athletic players on the Nebraska basketball roster.

Diop is also really raw. I doubt he’s quite ready for Big Ten basketball. Yet, after a redshirt season, he could be ready to be a rotational piece in 2024-25.

Nebraska basketball is a great place for Diop to develop

Ernie Ziegler, a current Nebraska basketball assistant spent time as a coach with NBA Africa Program via Husker Online, which could be why the Huskers knew about Diop.

But that’s another good reason why the program will be a good fit. Diop has raw talent and the Huskers will know how to develop him. Even though most of Diop’s points happen around the basket, he does show the ability to make 3-pointers.

Diop’s shot will need work and few will be better to aid him than Fred Hoiberg. The former NBA player and head coach will help develop the fundamentals needed to have a future in pro basketball.

All the raw tools are there — it’s just going to take time which Nebraska has especially if Diop redshirts.

What about the final roster spot?

I’m wondering if Nebraska basketball will leave it open (Huskers have one scholarship available). I wouldn’t hate if Fred Hoiberg gave it to his son because he earned based on his play last season.

At the same time, Nebraska could hold it in case another transfer comes available. Hoiberg probably doesn’t need the scholarship to pay for college. It would be a sign of respect more than anything.

I believe that Fred will probably go into next season with one open scholarship. You never know when a player could be available and as of right now, Nebraska has a pretty solid roster going into the 2023-24 season.

For More Nebraska content, follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook Page, and Subscribe to the Husker Big Red YouTube Channel. You can also find our podcast on Apple or Spotify, or purchase our Husker Big Red Merchandise




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