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3 keys and a prediction for Nebraska basketball vs. Purdue

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Nebraska basketball
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska basketball hosts the No. 1 team in the country on Tuesday night and here are three keys plus a prediction.

The last time Nebraska basketball took the floor, it ran into a buzzsaw with Wisconsin. The Badgers are a really good team, but they also made 13 3-pointers when they averaged six per game.

Nebraska will have to be better defensively, but the lopsided nature of that loss was a one-off in my opinion. I’m not saying that the Huskers are going to upset the top-ranked team in college basketball, although they nearly pulled off the upset last season.

Looking ahead to a huge matchup at home for the Nebraska basketball team (12-3, 2-2) against Purdue, here are three keys and a prediction.

Start fast

We all know the book on Purdue. Zach Edey is the most dominant player in college basketball. The Boilermakers defend well and they shot 38 percent from 3-point range. Edey faces plenty of doubles and the Boilermakers take advantage of the open looks.

All this to say Purdue could run Nebraska out of the gym just like Wisconsin. This team scores more than 85 points per game. They also allow just 0.94 per possession.

For Nebraska, the key is to survive. Make some 3-pointers early and keep the crowd engaged. The environment is going to be crazy inside the Vault and the Huskers can’t allow Purdue to suck the energy out by grabbing a big lead early.

Win the 3-point line

You might think the key is stopping Zach Edey. However, if you look at the win by Northwestern over Purdue, which is the Boilermakers only loss, Edey actually had 35 points.

The difference was that Northwestern held Purdue to 26 percent from 3-point range. The Wildcats held Purdue to 5-of-19 from beyond the arc and Nebraska basketball needs to follow that same formula.

Instead of fiercely doubling down and giving Purdue a bunch of open looks, just do the best you can on Edey one-on-one and do your best to limit everyone else. That can be risky, but it’s been the only way Purdue has lost so far this season.

And for Nebraska — a team that made 12 3-pointers on Saturday — they have to make double-digit triples again or they won’t stand a chance.

Keep the rebounding level

Purdue ranks 98th in offensive rebounds with 11.9 per game. Nebraska ranks 131st with 11.4. Purdue allows opposing teams to get just 9.9 offensive rebounds per game, while Nebraska has allowed teams to get 11.6.

That’s a lot of numbers but against Purdue, or any team really, you have to keep the opponent off the offensive glass. The Huskers weren’t great at that on Saturday, but they’ll have to be on Tuesday night.

When Purdue misses shots, you have to limit the second-chance opportunities. The offense is good enough with a single possession and limiting the extra ones is essential.

Nebraska vs. Purdue (-7.5) (8 PM CST, Peacock)

The Huskers are going to play better than they did against Wisconsin, but this Purdue squad is a different animal. Like last season, Nebraska makes it close and covers the spread, but Purdue survives.

Purdue 85, Nebraska 80

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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

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