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3 keys and a prediction for Nebraska Basketball vs Rutgers



Nebraska basketball
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska basketball is fresh off a big win over Wisconsin, can the Huskers pull off an upset on the road against Rutgers?

In what will likely be the most difficult game of this closing five-game stretch for Nebraska basketball, the Huskers will play in Piscataway on Tuesday night.

Rutgers is 8-6 in the Big Ten and part of a five-way tie for fourth place. The Scarlet Knights were recently ranked and are expected to be an NCAA tournament team next month.

The Huskers are listed as a 12.5-point underdog tonight (8 EST, Big Ten Network) and here are three keys, as well as a prediction for Nebraska basketball vs Rutgers.

Keep Keisei going

Keisei Tominaga has single-handily given Nebraska basketball fans a reason to stay engaged with this team. There’s more than just him, but he’s been incredible to watch and has averaged 25 points over the last three games.

Tominaga is scoring over 12 points per game and is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. His development has been as promising as anything that’s happened this season for the Huskers. He looks like a professional basketball player and if he can do this again next year, the NBA honestly wouldn’t be out of the question.

I’m not saying he gets drafted but why wouldn’t a team take a chance on a kid that can score as Tominaga can? It makes you wonder what took him so long to get featured in the offense. He’s clearly an elite scorer and needs to be playing 30 minutes a night.

And if the Huskers are going to have any shot of upsetting the Scarlet Knights tonight, he needs to probably score at least 20 and hit four triples or so.

Nebraska basketball must value the ball

On the offensive end, Rutgers doesn’t do anything particularly well. The Scarlet Knights don’t shoot well. They are 11th in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage, 13th in 2-point field-goal percentage, and 10th in 3-point shooting.

However, Rutgers can do one thing really well and that’s play defense. The Scarlet Knights are second in the Big Ten in scoring defense with 63.1 points allowed per game. They also lead the Big Ten in steals and field-goal percentage defense, as well as 2nd in field-goal percentage.

Scoring is going to be tough. But one thing Nebraska can’t do is turn the ball over and allow Rutgers to get easy buckets. When Nebraska beat Penn State, it limited turnovers and fouls and that’s the key here.

Keep the turnovers under 10, as well as the fouls and the upset won’t be a pipe dream.

Be ready for the grind

Rutgers is ranked third in the country in points allowed per possession. They are going to make it really tough on Nebraska and if the Scarlet Knights force a bunch of turnovers, you could see them winning this game by holding the Huskers under 60 points.

Nebraska has to break through that and taking care of the ball is the key. But being mentally ready for this matchup is going to be important. The Huskers are going to have to make contested shots. Sam Griesel and Derrick Walker have to pound the ball inside and Tominaga needs to make some shots from deep.

You need some outlier performances to win as a double-digit underdog and this team needs to embrace the grind too as it plays its fourth game in 10 days. Rutgers doesn’t play a pretty brand of basketball either. It’s rough and it’s rugged and not many teams leave the RAC with a win because of it.

Nebraska vs Rutgers prediction

I think the spread is a little high honestly. That being said, it’s hard for me to see Nebraska winning this game. Rutgers needs a win and this is the kind of game where Juwan Gary and Emmanuel Bandoumel would really help if they hadn’t suffered a season-ending injury.

I do see the Huskers covering the spread, but I just am not bold enough to pick this upset.

Rutgers 64, Nebraska 56

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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