Nebraska basketball faces a critical matchup on Sunday against Michigan State. Here are three keys and a prediction.
Everything was going swimmingly for the Nebraska basketball team, until the past two games. First, there was the blowout loss at home to Creighton.
Then, Nebraska blew a big lead on the road against Minnesota in one of the worst halves of basketball during the Fred Hoiberg era.
Now, Nebraska faces an 0-2 start in the Big Ten. The Huskers are 7-2 overall, but that’s not how they imagined this season starting in conference play.
If this team is going to be different and break the NCAA tournament slump, it should be up to the task of beating a 4-4 Michigan State team at home. However, the Spartans are always dangerous. They have eight top-100 recruits that could play on Sunday.
Looking ahead to a key game for both teams, here are three keys and a prediction.
Defend in transition
Last season, Nebraska allowed 78.5 points in the two losses against Michigan State. Both of those defeats came by double-digits and one of the biggest issues was transition defense.
It helps to score against Michigan State. The Spartans are great in transition and take advantage of turnovers and rebounds to run whenever they can.
The Huskers allowed a bunch of open looks and Malik Hall buried five 3-pointers in the win in Lincoln, as Nebraska blew a double-digit lead and lost by 13.
Michigan State has been one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country so far. They rank outside the top 300 in 3-point attempts, makes, and percentage. But if you give the Spartans good looks in transition, they might be able to get going.
Get Keisei Tominaga going
Speaking of players that need to get going — Keisei Tominaga scored 20 points last season against Michigan State and needs to have a similar game to that on Sunday.
Tominaga hit four 3-pointers last season against the Spartans, which was a big difference from earlier this week against Minnesota when he was held to just four points on four shot attempts.
Teams are being physical with Tominaga and they are making him work hard to get the ball. It’s up to Fred to design ways to put him in advantageous positions. Tominaga also needs to develop more as a playmaker.
Bottom line though, he needs to deliver a big name on Sunday.
Win the extra possessions
This is always important against Michigan State. The Spartans turn the ball over 10.9 times per game compared to 10.3 for Nebraska. Michigan State also forces over 13 turnovers a game, while the Huskers are forcing 11.
That’s going to be a focal point. Michigan State has struggled to score this season. They rank 236th in scoring and are making just 5.1 3-pointers per game. Tyson Walker is averaging 20 points per game, but A.J. Hoggard, Jaden Adkins and Malik Hall, even Maddy Sissoko are all capable.
Michigan State forcing turnovers and getting easy buckets in transition is one way to get their confidence up. That’s one thing Nebraska can’t do. They need to at least keep even in those extra-possession battles.
Turnovers are one and offensive rebounds are another. The Spartans were dominated on the boards by Wisconsin 37-22 in their loss this week. If Nebraska can keep the turnover battle even, earning an edge on the boards would be critical.
Michigan State is a 3.5-point favorite according to DraftKings. The Spartans are talented but struggling. Yet, Tom Izzo is one of the best and I’m betting on him on Sunday.
Michigan State 72, Nebraska 65
FB RECRUITING24 hours ago
Nebraska Football: Dylan Raiola reaches out to 5-star OT
FOOTBALL4 days ago
5 most impactful newcomers for Nebraska football in 2024
FB RECRUITING5 days ago
Nebraska Football has official visit locked in with 4-star WR
BASKETBALL3 days ago
Nebraska basketball teams keep trending up in bracketology
FB RECRUITING2 days ago
2025 blue-chip sets official visit, plus more Nebraska football recruiting news
BASKETBALL4 days ago
3 takeaways from Nebraska basketball crucial win over Indiana
BASKETBALL4 days ago
3 keys and a prediction for Nebraska basketball at Indiana
BASKETBALL3 hours ago
3 keys and a prediction in huge game for Nebraska basketball vs. Minnesota