Nebraska basketball has another home game on Tuesday night against Ohio State and here are three keys and a prediction.
Last Saturday, Nebraska basketball ended another lengthy losing streak, this time to Northwestern. It was the fourth time this season that the Huskers have beaten a team that had a seven-game winning streak over them.
It’s been a season of getting some revenge. More importantly, it’s about building that NCAA tournament resume, and going into tonight’s game at the Vault, Nebraska basketball is 14-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten. Ohio State is 13-5 overall and 3-4 in league play.
In the last bracketology released by ESPN, Nebraska was among the last four byes for the tournament, while Ohio State was among the last four teams out. So this is a huge game for both teams. Tip-off is set for 6 PM CST on Peacock and here are the keys, plus our prediction.
Win the 3-point battle
Yes, this is a key once again. The Huskers have the worst 3-point defense in terms of makes per game in the Big Ten conference. But Ohio State isn’t much better ranking 12th in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage defense.
That should create opportunities for the Huskers who have been leading the Big Ten in triples per game. Yet, Nebraska has allowed at least eight 3-pointers in every Big Ten game this season. They have allowed double-digit makes in six of eight contests and they can’t do that to Ohio State.
The Buckeyes average 7.1 triples per game. Former Minnesota Golden Gopher Jamison Battle makes 2.6 per game, while Bruce Thorton makes 1.8. Nebraska can’t allow those guys to get going and if they are outscored on the 3-pointers, that won’t be a good sign.
Nebraska did lose the 3-point battle against Northwestern and won the game, which was good to see. But I have a hard time seeing that happen on Tuesday night.
Clean up the glass
One thing the Buckeyes do well is crash the boards. They grab 12.6 offensive rebounds per game. That number has dipped to 10 per game in Big Ten play, but that’s still fifth in the conference.
Allowing offensive rebounds has been a huge weakness for the Huskers. They give up 12.1 per game which ranks 337th in college basketball. They are also allowing 9.9 in conference play, which ranks 13th out of 14 Big Ten teams.
Juwan Gary, the usual starting four for the Huskers is a game-time decision and Nebraska needs him. Not only is Gary the best option to guard Battle, but he’s a stellar rebounder and frankly, does a spectacular job of stretching the floor at the four.
Hopefully, he can play. If not, the Huskers still have to find a way to keep Ohio State from dominating on the offensive glass.
Take care of the ball
Nebraska has struggled to take care of the ball. The Huskers have turned the ball double-digit times in every Big Ten game and are averaging 11.7 turnovers per game. The good news is that Ohio State doesn’t force a lot of turnovers, actually just nine per game in conference play.
The Huskers have faced some teams that excel are creating turnovers. Ohio State isn’t that team, so Nebraska basketball should be able to keep the turnovers in single digits. And if they do that, plus limit the extra possessions from offensive rebounds, that should lead to a victory.
Prediction: Nebraska 78, Ohio State 71
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