Nebraska is a dead team walking.
Sure, their NET ranking is pretty solid at 36 and on KenPom they are at 33, but they are done. They are 13-10 overall and a paltry 3-9 in the Big Ten. They actually have the opposite problem that they had last year. That year they were 22-11 and 13-5 in the Big Ten, but they were 0-9 against anyone even remotely good on their schedule. This year they have some good wins, but they have lost six in a row and the prospects to finish above .500 in the league are dim. Even finishing above .500 overall seems unlikely with two games against Purdue and a game each against Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa.
We still can’t take them lightly. They are a struggling team for sure, but one way to turn things around is winning in Mackey, where we haven’t lost in over a year.
From: Lincoln, NE
Date: Saturday, January 9, 2019
Tip Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
2017-18 Record: 22-11, 13-5 Big Ten
2018-19 Record: 13-10, 3-9 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: Corn Nation
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 14-5
Last Nebraska Win: 83-80 on 1/29/2017 at Nebraska
Last Purdue Win: 74-62 on 1/6/2018 at Purdue
NCAA Tournament History: 7 appearances, last in 2014. Only Major Conference team to never win an NCAA Tournament game.
Coach: Tim Miles (110-106 in 7th season at Nebraska, 393-326 in 24th season overall)
The Cornhuskers got off to a great start this year. They got a very nice win at Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and beat Seton Hall in the Gavitt Games. They also beat Creighton and Oklahoma State with their lone early loss coming at the hands of Texas Tech in a neutral site game in Kansas City. They split their December Big Ten games, winning at home against Illinois before losing at Minnesota. On January 14th they were sitting pretty well at 3-3 in Big Ten play and 12-4 overall.
Then the bottom fell out. They come to West Lafayette having lost six in a row and missing their second leading scorer in Isaac Copeland Jr. Copeland was averaging 14 points and 5.4 rebounds per game when he was lost for the season with a knee injury. It has been a crippling blow. The offense has struggled greatly and Wednesday night at home against Maryland they managed only 45 points.
The Cornhuskers still have some talent, however. James Palmer Jr. has been one of the best players in the Big Ten at 19 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. He is a dangerous pure scorer that had a season high 30 points against Creighton.
Glynn Watson Jr. (12.2 ppg) and Isaiah Roby (11.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg) complement Palmer very well. Rob had a big game against Maryland with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots, so he is going to challenge Matt Haarms and Trevion Williams in the post. He can also step out and shoot the three, as he is 14 of 46 from three on the year.
Thomas Allen is the only other significant scorer at 8.6 per game. After him the numbers drop off pretty significantly, much like Minnesota.
One thing to look out for is Palmer getting to the line. He has attempted a team high 175 free throws on the season and is one of the conference leaders in that category. He is going to attack the rim all night long.
What has helped Nebraska is that they are pretty strong defensively. They are 3rd in the Big Ten at 62.7 points per game given up. They are one of the best teams in the conference at defending the three, as opponents are shooting only 30.2% from three. They are also second in the conference in steals and lead the league in turnover margin.
Their defense is not in question. It is their offense that has struggled big time. They also have to come into Mackey. Purdue certainly looks unbeatable at home and Sunday was a prime example. The crowd willed the Boilers back into that game and made it a walkaway win at the end. As long as we’re playing in Mackey I like our chances.