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3 keys and a prediction for Nebraska basketball vs. Minnesota



Nebraska basketball
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska basketball opens Big Ten play on Wednesday night against Minnesota. Here are three keys and a prediction.

There is no time for Nebraska basketball to lick its wounds after a blowout loss at home on Sunday against Creighton as the start of Big Ten play comes on Wednesday night in Minnesota.

Last season, the Huskers survived and won in overtime over the Gophers. This season, Nebraska, which is still 7-1, is a 3-point favorite according to DraftKings.

The Gophers are a transfer-heavy lineup, but Dawson Garcia is back again. He’s averaging over 20 points per game and is looking like an All-Big Ten player so far this season.

However, Nebraska basketball is pretty solid in the frontcourt. The defense will need to be better for the Huskers and on that note, here are three keys and a prediction for tonight at Minnesota (8 PM CST on Big Ten Network).

Have a short memory

It’s a long season. You’re going to have off nights. The key for Nebraska baskeball is now allowing one bad game against Creighton to turn into two.

Minnesota isn’t a powerhouse. The Gophers are 113th in the Kenpom rankings, while Nebraska ranks 61st. The Huskers were in the top 50 not that long ago. They just need to get back the kind of basketball that made them 7-0.

Against Creighton, the defense let down, especially defending the 3-point line. The Huskers also couldn’t buy a bucket from downtown and struggled on the interior.

It was uncharacteristic all around. The key is forgetting and bouncing back with a solid performance tonight, because every Big Ten game is critical for this team to make the NCAA tournament.

3-point shooting has to be better

One of the most surprising things about the loss on Sunday was the fact that Nebraska basketball shot just 2-of-22 from 3-point range. That’s nine percent.

Obviously, that can’t happen again and I don’t expect that it will. The Huskers are still making 8.6 3-pointers per game and they rank in the top 100 in terms of 3-point percentage. Minnesota is good at limiting the 3-point attempts of opposing teams but the Gophers rank 204th in college basketball in 3-point percentage defense.

Starting with guys like Keisei Tominaga and Juwan Gary, Nebraska basketball has to take advantage of that on Wednesday night, which also means attacking the basket to free up some open looks.

At least stalemate Minnesota in the paint

With Garcia and Pharrel Payne inside, the Gophers have a pair of rim protectors as they average three blocks per game between the two of them as well as nearly five offensive rebounds.

Minnesota is 26th in 2-point percentage on offense, as well as 43rd in 2-point percentage defense. That’s directly tied to the play of those bigs.

The good news is that Nebraska is generally solid in those areas too with Rienk Mast, Josiah Allick, and others like Juwan Gary and even Tominaga, who is crafty scoring inside. The defense will need to be solid and also the rebounding.

Three times this season, Nebraska has allowed double-digit offensive rebounds, which would be a great way to allow Minnesota to hang around on Wednesday night.

Nebraska vs. Minnesota prediction

Sunday was a rough performance, but this Nebraska team is much better than Minnesota, which isn’t Creighton. This will be a tight game and kind of a grind, but I see the Huskers pulling away late, thanks in part to their 3-point shooting.

Prediction: Nebraska 69, Minnesota 61

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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