Nebraska Basketball: 3 keys and a prediction for must-win at Minnesota
Nebraska basketball faces a must-win game at Minnesota on Saturday and here are three keys and a prediction for the Huskers.
It’s not drastic at all to call Saturday’s Nebraska basketball game a must-win for the Huskers. Minnesota hasn’t been good this year and even though this game is at home for the Gophers, Nebraska is a 3-point favorite.
There’s no doubt that the Huskers have shown improvement this season. The win over Creighton was terrific and so was the win at home over Iowa. But Nebraska is still sitting at 1-3 in the Big Ten after four games and there’s a huge difference between 1-4 and 2-3.
I don’t really see this Nebraska basketball team pushing for an NCAA tournament berth. But a season above .500 is definitely possible but that will mean winning nine Big Ten games. Nebraska has 16 left — eight at home and eight on the road.
They need to win the majority of the home games, which is possible but they also have to steal a couple on the road and there is no better opportunity than Saturday. Here are the keys and a prediction.
Nebraska basketball needs to win the turnover battle
Both teams are struggling a little with turnovers as each turns it over more than 13 times per game. Nebraska has been better at forcing takeaways from other teams though. Minnesota forces just over 10 turnovers per game, while the Huskers force more than 12.
Taking the ball away and getting some points in transition always makes life easier for the offense and if Nebraska can win the turnover battle and take advantage of Minnesota’s weakness in taking care of the ball (308th in turnover percentage), it will go a long way toward getting a road win.
Sam Griesel also needs to play well and we’ve seen him step up in must-have games against Creighton and Iowa. I see him doing it again versus Minnesota.
Shoot the ball better
This one is simple but Nebraska was terrible at shooting the ball against Michigan State. Not only did the Huskers go 2-for-16 from 3-point range, but they also went 8-of-20 from the free-throw line. You just can’t miss that many free throws against a team like Michigan State and expect to have a chance.
It’s easy to say what if, but Nebraska missed some really good looks against Michigan State. The same thing happened at Indiana and also at St. John’s. The Huskers have struggled to shoot the ball in the gym of opposing teams and the Barn at Minnesota can be a struggle. It’s a weird gym that’s all there is to it.
Griesel, Derrick Walker, and the Huskers have done a good job all season of getting to the line but they need to make it count and make more than two 3-pointers.
Dominate in the post
When this team is winning, it’s scoring from the inside out. Meaning, Derrick Walker and Griesel are getting to the basket. Dawson Garcia is a 6-foot-11 big man and Minnesota has been solid with its two-point defense, but Walker is one of the most productive bigs in the country.
Walker needs double-digit shots today for Nebraska. It seems obvious but doesn’t always happen. The Huskers need to attack and pound the ball inside with him and Griesel who should have an advantage.
That will lead to good perimeter looks and if the Huskers can shoot well, as I said before, they should leave the Barn victorious.
Jamison Battle is a player I worry about. He’s capable of taking over a game even though he hasn’t quite been himself this season, but Juwan Gary should be able to check him. On the flip side, I think Griesel will give the Gophers fits and Walker will have a double-double in a 63-59 win for the Huskers.
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Nebraska Basketball: Guard Denim Dawson enters transfer portal
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.
Nebraska wing Denim Dawson intends to enter the transfer portal, a source tells @247SportsPortal.
Freshman that started in eight games for the Cornhuskers this season. Former three-star recruit in the 2021 class.https://t.co/RcNdldQaTz
— Travis Branham (@TravisBranham_) March 15, 2023
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.
Podcast: What’s next for Nebraska Basketball after missing NIT?
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
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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