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3 keys and a prediction for Nebraska Basketball vs Michigan State



Nebraska Basketball
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

There is another huge game on tap for Nebraska Basketball on Tuesday and here are three keys and a prediction vs Michigan State.

Nebraska basketball will play Michigan State for the second time this season but this is a much different Huskers squad than the one that lost by 18 to Michigan State back in January.

For one, Nebraska has a different starting lineup. The Huskers lost two starters due to injury but have still found a way to play their best basketball as the calendar is about to shift to March.

While Michigan State is solidly in the NCAA tournament, Nebraska is hoping to make its way to the postseason too. An NIT bid certainly seems possible but if the Huskers keep winning, who knows?

Regardless, a win on Tuesday (8 PM CST tip) would put Nebraska two games over .500 and would ensure a non-losing season for the first time in the Fred Hoiberg era. Nebraska also has a chance to finish in the top 11 and avoid playing on the first day of the Big Ten tournament.

Beyond that, it’s Senior Day. Derrick Walker and Sam Griesel will walk, as will Emmanudel Bandoumel and Keisei Tominaga, although his future is still in doubt.

With all that in mind, here are three keys and a prediction for Nebraska basketball vs Michigan State.

Better halfcourt defense

In the first meeting, Nebraska was atrocious on the defensive end of the floor, allowing Michigan State to score 1.12 points per possession. Michigan State rebounded 35 percent of their misses and they didn’t miss that much with an effective field-goal percentage of 53.8.

The stat that really jumps out though is assists. Michigan State was credited with 24 assists on 31 field goals. That’s over 75 percent and it shows that Michigan State was killing Nebraska with its actions and ball movements.

Tom Izzo coached teams are always really strong on the defensive end. They rebound, generally transition well and run really good stuff on the offensive end.  You have to communicate and be on your game defensively. Nebraska wasn’t in the first meeting, and it has to be better on Tuesday night.

Be competitive on the boards

Another mind-boggling stat from the first matchup was the fact that Michigan State doubled up the Huskers on the boards with 40 compared to 20. Nebraska is a pretty solid defensive-rebounding team, but Juwan Gary is really missed in that department.

Nebraska actually ranks 12th in the Big Ten in allowing offensive rebounds to opponents and whatever happens, the Huskers can’t allow Michigan State to beat them up on the glass.

The Spartans aren’t as good a rebounding team as they usually are but Nebraska knows what they are capable of. The Spartans are also fifth in the Big Ten in forcing turnovers, so again, limiting extra possessions will be huge for the Huskers.

Make some shots

The offense will need to be more productive than the 56 points scored in East Lansing. Part of that was a 2-of-14 effort from 3-point range. Keisei Tominanga played just 11 minutes in the first meeting, so this will be an entirely different offense to defend.

Tominaga is the perfect guy to play with Derrick Walker, who is an elite passer for a big because he moves so well without the ball. He also leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage when finishing at the rim.

The Japanese Steph Curry will need to get going in the Vault but the Huskers need to continue to run their offense through Derrick Walker. If Michigan State chooses to guard him one-on-one, Walker should have a nice day at the office and if he’s doubled (as I expect some of the time) the onus will be on the Huskers to make shots.

It’s easy to say but Michigan State is first in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage defense, second in overall field-goal percentage defense and sixth in 2-point defense, so the Spartans don’t make it easy. Then again, Rutgers has a stellar defense too and Nebraska tore that to shreds.

The key to that has been more than just Tominanga, but all the Nebraska guards playing well — Griesel, Jamarques Lawrence, Sam Hoiberg. Teams that win this time of year are getting good guard play and so is Nebraska.

It just needs to continue and against Michigan State, in addition to taking care of the basketball, the guards are going to have to make shots — tough, contested ones — to win.

Nebraska basketball vs Michigan State Prediction

Michigan State is a solid team. They have a bunch of former top-100 players. Joey Hauser, A.J. Hoggard, Tyson Walker, Mady Sissosko, and Malik Hall can all make things happen. The Spartans have solid guards and when Hauser gets going, they are tough to beat.

Hoggard and Walker are all capable of carrying the offense at times too. The Spartans have a lot of shooters as they always seem to do and if Nebraska’s defense isn’t on point, MSU will win this game.

However, I think Nebraska will find a way. It might be putting Griesel on Hauser for all we know, but I expect a much better defensive effort and on Senior night at the Vault, which is going to be insane, this team won’t be denied.

Nebraska 69, Michigan State 65. 

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Nebraska Basketball: Guard Denim Dawson enters transfer portal



Nebraska basketball redshirt freshman Denim Dawson entered the transfer portal on Wednesday, as more moves continue to be made within the basketball team. This was first reported by 247Sports’ Travis Branham.

Dawson had his moments for Nebraska basketball this season. He made his first start against Purdue back in December. He had three rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes of play. He then was able to continue his strong play in the second half of the season when he had seven points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes. Dawson was active on the glass against Penn State when he recorded nine rebounds.

It could be said that Dawson never had a fair chance to crack the rotation due to the players in front of him. Nevertheless, Dawson had raw athletic ability, and it was easy to see why he was recruited to the program.

Dawson was a three-star recruit and was the 32nd overall player in the state of California for the 2022 class.

What does this move mean for Nebraska basketball?

This move makes sense for Dawson, as Nebraska basketball has several guards on the roster already. Jamarques Lawrence is one of them, and he was able to take on a big role for the program. This is a case of there being too many mouths to feed on the roster. The emergence of Lawrence also probably played a bit of a role as the latter looks to be a staple for the program.

It will be interesting to see where Dawson ends up. He is certainly a talented player, but Nebraska basketball was not the right fit for him at this time.

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Podcast: What’s next for Nebraska Basketball after missing NIT?



Nebraska basketball
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Our latest podcast discusses whether Nebraska Basketball should have missed the NIT, look at what’s next, and more.

It’s the start of another week, Husker fans, and in terms of the Nebraska basketball team, we got some disappointing news on Sunday night.

Nebraska was on the NIT bubble even before its loss to Minnesota last week in the Big Ten tournament. While some NIT projections had the Huskers barely making it in the field, Nebraska basketball was left on the outside looking in.

Chris Peterson and Danny Jaillet are each on the show in their usual spot and offer up their thoughts on whether Nebraska basketball was treated fairly. The loss to Minnesota was bad, but Nebraska also beat Maryland, Penn State, Creighton, and Iowa (twice) — all teams that made the NCAA tournament.

The Huskers also beat Wisconsin and Rutgers, two teams that made the NIT. The loss to Minnesota was bad but the Huskers had a quality resume. However, their 16-16 record wasn’t all that impressive and again, that’s where the loss to Minnesota hurt.

What’s next for Nebraska basketball?

Now that the season is officially over for the Huskers, we can look toward the future. The biggest question is what will Keisei Tominaga do? Will he return for another season, or go to Japan?

There is hope the Huskers can do some things with NIL, although Keisei is limited to earning “passive income” such as money from jersey sales. He can’t actively promote products. It’s always possible things could change with those NIL rules, but at the end of the day, if money is the driving factor, Japan is probably the best bet.

Tominaga has become a star over there. He’s also a star to Nebraska basketball fans and could have as big a following next season as any Husker — ever.

I’m not saying he would be the best player by any means, but social media didn’t exist when Tyronn Lue was around for instance. It would be fun regardless. Nebraska basketball also needs to add some transfers.

We talk about all that and more. We also touch on Nebraska football recruiting, so check out the full episode of the Husker Big Red Podcast below:

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Nebraska Basketball season ends with defensive thud vs. Gophers



Nebraska basketball lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers by a 78-75 margin on Wednesday night. There were several crucial plays towards the end of the game. The basketball bouncing off of Sam Griesel while Nebraska tried to score was a difficult break. Two illegal screens in a row also did not help matters. Nevertheless, there was one major theme. The defense struggled throughout the evening.

It wasn’t as if Nebraska had answers for Minnesota either. Minnesota shot 51.9% from the field and 41.7% from beyond the arc.

One of the biggest problems for Nebraska on Wednesday night was being able to stop scores from the inside. Minnesota was able to have their way inside in several aspects. Minnesota freshman Pharrel Payne had six points and four rebounds on the evening. On the other end of the floor, he played solid defensively, shutting down Nebraska big man Derrick Walker.

Jaden Henley and Dawson Garcia had their way inside as well. They finished with 14 and 18 points respectively. They were able to pick apart the Nebraska basketball defense with quick passes and their ability to muscle inside. To be frank, Nebraska basketball had no answer for the inside game, and it became clear that this was going to be a major problem throughout the course of the game.

The defense inside the paint was not the only problem. Nebraska basketball struggled all night in terms of rotations and not getting to the shooter quick enough. They were unable to close out on a player such as Garcia, and he made them pay, going seven-of-13 from the field. He gave Minnesota the lead on a three-ball with 8:35 left in the first half, and the Gophers never looked back.

The aggressive rotations and aggressiveness overall that Nebraska displayed all season defensively was missing. They did not have the defensive energy to match Minnesota and it was noticeable early on. Minnesota was able to play however they wanted offensively, and they were able to establish their dominance inside, opening up space for perimeter shooters. It looked like a cat playing with a mouse.

It was a defensive thud to end the season for Nebraska basketball. Now the offseason begins and questions remain unanswered.

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