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3 keys and a prediction for Nebraska Basketball vs Rutgers

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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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Nebraska Basketball: Guard Denim Dawson enters transfer portal

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Nebraska basketball redshirt freshman Denim Dawson entered the transfer portal on Wednesday, as more moves continue to be made within the basketball team. This was first reported by 247Sports’ Travis Branham.

Dawson had his moments for Nebraska basketball this season. He made his first start against Purdue back in December. He had three rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes of play. He then was able to continue his strong play in the second half of the season when he had seven points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes. Dawson was active on the glass against Penn State when he recorded nine rebounds.

It could be said that Dawson never had a fair chance to crack the rotation due to the players in front of him. Nevertheless, Dawson had raw athletic ability, and it was easy to see why he was recruited to the program.

Dawson was a three-star recruit and was the 32nd overall player in the state of California for the 2022 class.

What does this move mean for Nebraska basketball?

This move makes sense for Dawson, as Nebraska basketball has several guards on the roster already. Jamarques Lawrence is one of them, and he was able to take on a big role for the program. This is a case of there being too many mouths to feed on the roster. The emergence of Lawrence also probably played a bit of a role as the latter looks to be a staple for the program.

It will be interesting to see where Dawson ends up. He is certainly a talented player, but Nebraska basketball was not the right fit for him at this time.

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Podcast: What’s next for Nebraska Basketball after missing NIT?

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Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Our latest podcast discusses whether Nebraska Basketball should have missed the NIT, look at what’s next, and more.

It’s the start of another week, Husker fans, and in terms of the Nebraska basketball team, we got some disappointing news on Sunday night.

Nebraska was on the NIT bubble even before its loss to Minnesota last week in the Big Ten tournament. While some NIT projections had the Huskers barely making it in the field, Nebraska basketball was left on the outside looking in.

Chris Peterson and Danny Jaillet are each on the show in their usual spot and offer up their thoughts on whether Nebraska basketball was treated fairly. The loss to Minnesota was bad, but Nebraska also beat Maryland, Penn State, Creighton, and Iowa (twice) — all teams that made the NCAA tournament.

The Huskers also beat Wisconsin and Rutgers, two teams that made the NIT. The loss to Minnesota was bad but the Huskers had a quality resume. However, their 16-16 record wasn’t all that impressive and again, that’s where the loss to Minnesota hurt.

What’s next for Nebraska basketball?

Now that the season is officially over for the Huskers, we can look toward the future. The biggest question is what will Keisei Tominaga do? Will he return for another season, or go to Japan?

There is hope the Huskers can do some things with NIL, although Keisei is limited to earning “passive income” such as money from jersey sales. He can’t actively promote products. It’s always possible things could change with those NIL rules, but at the end of the day, if money is the driving factor, Japan is probably the best bet.

Tominaga has become a star over there. He’s also a star to Nebraska basketball fans and could have as big a following next season as any Husker — ever.

I’m not saying he would be the best player by any means, but social media didn’t exist when Tyronn Lue was around for instance. It would be fun regardless. Nebraska basketball also needs to add some transfers.

We talk about all that and more. We also touch on Nebraska football recruiting, so check out the full episode of the Husker Big Red Podcast below:

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Nebraska Basketball season ends with defensive thud vs. Gophers

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Nebraska basketball lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers by a 78-75 margin on Wednesday night. There were several crucial plays towards the end of the game. The basketball bouncing off of Sam Griesel while Nebraska tried to score was a difficult break. Two illegal screens in a row also did not help matters. Nevertheless, there was one major theme. The defense struggled throughout the evening.

It wasn’t as if Nebraska had answers for Minnesota either. Minnesota shot 51.9% from the field and 41.7% from beyond the arc.

One of the biggest problems for Nebraska on Wednesday night was being able to stop scores from the inside. Minnesota was able to have their way inside in several aspects. Minnesota freshman Pharrel Payne had six points and four rebounds on the evening. On the other end of the floor, he played solid defensively, shutting down Nebraska big man Derrick Walker.

Jaden Henley and Dawson Garcia had their way inside as well. They finished with 14 and 18 points respectively. They were able to pick apart the Nebraska basketball defense with quick passes and their ability to muscle inside. To be frank, Nebraska basketball had no answer for the inside game, and it became clear that this was going to be a major problem throughout the course of the game.

The defense inside the paint was not the only problem. Nebraska basketball struggled all night in terms of rotations and not getting to the shooter quick enough. They were unable to close out on a player such as Garcia, and he made them pay, going seven-of-13 from the field. He gave Minnesota the lead on a three-ball with 8:35 left in the first half, and the Gophers never looked back.

The aggressive rotations and aggressiveness overall that Nebraska displayed all season defensively was missing. They did not have the defensive energy to match Minnesota and it was noticeable early on. Minnesota was able to play however they wanted offensively, and they were able to establish their dominance inside, opening up space for perimeter shooters. It looked like a cat playing with a mouse.

It was a defensive thud to end the season for Nebraska basketball. Now the offseason begins and questions remain unanswered.

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