IU-Nebraska Gameday Preview

On Wednesday at 7:00 ET, the #13-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (15-3, 3-3) will try to break a two-game losing streak when they travel to Lincoln to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-8, 1-5) on the Big Ten Network.

As always, Jerod, Andy, and Ryan will be here with another episode of The Assembly Call as soon as the game ends with instant analysis and fan reaction.

IU-Nebraska Gameday Info

  • Date: Wednesday, January 18th
  • Time: 7:00 ET, 6:00 CT
  • TV: BTN
  • Announcers: Gus Johnson and Eddie Johnson
  • Point Spread: Indiana by 4.5
  • Over-Under: 131
  • KenPom Prediction: Indiana 71-61 with 82% chance of winning
  • Peegs: IU Gameday
  • Inside the Hall: What to Expect – Nebraska

IU-Nebraska Preview

After losing to both Minnesota and Ohio State last week, the Hoosiers are trying to get back on track, particularly on the defensive end.  A matchup with the Huskers gives them a great chance to do just that with Nebraska scoring a league-worst 0.84 points per possession in conference play.  That said, the schedule-makers certainly didn’t do the Huskers any favors in their first Big Ten campaign with their first eight games coming against Ohio State and Wisconsin twice plus matchups with Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan State.

From an efficiency standpoint, there aren’t many positives when you look at Nebraska’s tempo-free stats.  They rank 177th in effective field goal percentage, 241st in turnover rate, 272nd in offensive rebound percentage, and 274th in free throw rate.  They make just 32.4 percent from beyond the arc, and their low free throw rate doesn’t allow them to take advantage of how well they shoot from the stripe.

The Huskers are slightly better on defense, allowing 1.02 points per possession in league play.  While their defensive rebounding percentage looks decent for the season, Nebraska is second-worst in the league during conference play.  They do defend the three-point line well, which might make it difficult for the Hoosiers to get back on track from beyond the arc after hitting just 11-of-39 (28.2%) in their last two games.

LSU transfer Bo Spencer leads Nebraska in scoring with 14.8 points and 3.7 assists per game.  While the scoring numbers look nice, Spencer isn’t particularly efficient.  He’s taken 96 three-pointers despite hitting just 31.3 percent from deep, and his eFG% is a pedestrian 45.5%.  He does have a solid assist rate and is a factor on the defensive end.

Nebraska has six other players scoring between 6.4 and 10.4 points per contest.  Guard Toney McCray (10.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg) is the team’s top three-point threat and had a string of seven straight double-digit scoring efforts snapped against Wisconsin on Sunday.  The other perimeter player to watch is Dylan Talley (9.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.0 apg).  He has six double figure games to his credit and will be playing his fourth game since returning from a thigh injury.

Inside, the Huskers rely on Jorge Brian Diaz and Brandon Ubel.  Diaz (9.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg) also recently returned from a foot injury, but he scored at least eight points in his first 10 games this year.  The 6-foot-11 junior is also adept at blocking shots, as evidenced by his 9.4 block percentage.  Ubel (6.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is the team’s best offensive rebounder, and given IU’s struggles there in recent games, they need to find him when shots go up.

Tempo will be something to watch given the contrast in styles with IU wanting to get up and down while the Huskers want to grind it out.  At the same time, the Hoosiers have to take better care of the basketball.  They are 10th in turnover rate in league play, while that is one area where the Huskers have played well on the defensive end.  Consequently, the play and decision-making of Jordan Hulls and Verdell Jones will be critical for Indiana.

While Nebraska has excelled at defending the three-point line, they have allowed a high percentage from two-point range, so the Hoosiers would be well-served to attack inside through Cody Zeller, who posted 39 points and 14 rebounds in two games last week.  They also need Christian Watford to get back on track after going just 5-of-20 in the two losses.

Regardless of the individual matchups, it is imperative for IU to come out with the same aggressiveness and intensity that propelled them to a 15-1 start.  They have not been getting nearly as many deflections on the defensive end and have failed to consistently show toughness in competing on the glass and for loose balls.  Their level of effort and awareness will go a long way toward determining the outcome of this game.

As we have seen in the early going, the Big Ten offers very few opportunities to pick up road wins, but if the Hoosiers want to contend for a conference title, this is one they have to win.  After a dismal first half in Columbus, IU showed fight in the second half against the Buckeyes, which has to carry over in the early going against Nebraska.  The Huskers don’t come in with much confidence offensively, but if the Hoosiers don’t tighten up their defense and allow them to hang around, things could get interesting in Lincoln.

Listen to Andy tonight on The Assembly Call. Follow him on Twitter at @AndyBottoms.

IU-Nebraska Postgame Show

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IU-Nebraska Postgame Chat



About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

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