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3 keys and a prediction for Nebraska basketball vs. Indiana



Nebraska basketball
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska basketball restarts Big Ten play on Wednesday night and here are three keys and a prediction for the Huskers.

The heart of the Big Ten schedule starts tonight for Nebraska basketball as the Huskers (11-2, 1-1) will host the Indiana Hoosiers (10-3, 2-0).

It’s the second home game of the Big Ten schedule for the Huskers and Keisei Tominaga’s family will be in the house for an important game. Every game is key for Nebraska basketball, which is squarely on the bubble heading into January according to the latest ESPN Bracketology. The Huskers are currently the last team in.

Indiana has won three straight games. The Hoosiers’ last loss came against Kansas (75-71) but since then they are 3-0. IU is ranked 88th in the Kenpom rankings, while Nebraska basketball ranks 53rd. It should be a fun matchup and here are three keys and a prediction. (Tip-off is 8 PM CST, BTN).

Keep Indiana off the foul line

The Hoosiers have three players 6-foot-8 or taller in their frontcourt. Kel’el Ware (7-0), Malik Reneau (6-9), and Mackenize Mgbako (6-8) make up the frontcourt and all were ranked among the top 25 in their high school recruiting class. They also average a combined 41 points per game.

Indiana is terrible from the 3-point line. They also don’t shoot all that well from the charity stripe. However, they are one of the better 2-point teams in the country (63rd at 55.3 percent). They shoot 25 free throws per game (17th in the country) but are 279th in percentage. Nebraska has to avoid fouls and make Indiana earn it from the floor.

Plus, if Rienk Mast doesn’t go due to injury, Nebraska will be thin up front, so getting those guys in foul trouble would be trouble.

Own the 3-point line

Sometimes, it’s as simple as making or missing shots in basketball. Indiana is a good offensive team, but the Hoosiers struggle on defense. They especially struggle defending the 3-point line ranking 277th in college basketball in defensive 3-point percentage (34.7 percent).

Nebraska averages 8.8 3-pointers per game. The Huskers haven’t shot it efficiently and that’s going to be a big key. In their 11 wins, Nebraska basketball has shot 35 percent or better from deep so if they hit that number tonight, that’ll be a good sign against Indiana.

Don’t beat yourself

Nebraska is a 5.5-point favorite and looking at the rosters, the Huskers should win. They are a better defensive team and also shoot better. But if Mast is unable to go, it causes more concern.

The interior defense needs to be up to the challenge. Those guys also have to stay out of foul trouble. Limiting fouls, turnovers, and offensive rebounds is always important, but those things are critical against Indiana.

Indiana has been an average rebounding team. But if the Huskers are without one of their top bigs, it could be a source of extra possessions for Indiana. A few extra offensive boards will be okay, as long as Nebraska limits the fouls and turnovers.

But lose the rebounding battle and the turnover battle, plus put Hoosiers on the line — that’s a formula for defeat.

Prediction: Nebraska 77, Indiana 69

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Chris has worked in sports journalism since 2005 writing for multiple newspapers and websites such as the Bleacher Report and Fansided before starting Husker Big Red, A fan site for hardcore followers of the #Huskers offering articles, podcasts, videos and more exclusive content on all things Nebraska