Kansas – Nebraska preview

One line in the KU fight song says “Husk some corn and listen to the Cornhuskers wail.” This will be the last chance for that before Nebraska heads to the Big Ten, unless they meet in the conference tournament or something.

Let us go back to the teams’ previous matchup January 15 in Lawrence. In the week prior, the Huskers had edged Iowa State by a point and dropped a road game at Missouri by eight. They entered halftime against KU with a five-point halftime lead, but were outscored in the second half 38-30. Kansas won the final game of its 69-game home winning streak.

Lance Jeter would like to lead Nebraska to its first NCAA Tournament since 1998. Source: JournalStar.com

We’ve written here before about Nebraska’s consistent strategy of slowing the game down and limiting both its own possessions and the other team’s. The style of games involving Nebraska is pretty predictable. While the Huskers are 3-4 in conference, their strategy has been largely successful outside of their last game, a 16-point loss at K-State. It was the team’s first blowout loss of conference play. Simply put, most Big 12 teams look uncomfortable playing Nebraska.

Nebraska is very balanced. They score evenly, they rebound evenly, and they spread out their minutes, too. No one averages more than 11 points, six rebounds or thirty minutes a game. Lance Jeter, at guard, might be the most prominent player, but the Huskers can probably go 11 or 12 players deep without losing much.

It’s not surprising the Huskers shoot fairly well (47.5%), because at such a slow pace they can’t really be tempted to take bad shots.

No. 2 Kansas looked great over the last week, but wasn’t challenged. They blew out K-State at home on Saturday night, which reflects how much damage the Jayhawks can do when people expect them to be challenged by a team that’s not quite as good. Few teams handle perceived upset threats in the regular season better than KU. They also walked all over Texas Tech in Lubbock, 88-66. It was not competitive.

The Jayhawks are playing better overall than they were when they beat Nebraska by three last month. The Morris twins are still difficult to contain (Marcus in scoring, Markieff in rebounding) and I think a lot of people don’t realize how good Thomas Robinson is.

The longer Nebraska feels comfortable playing the possession game, the better for Doc Sadler’s team. For KU, making a few early three-point shots could help Nebraska feel the pressure.

Bottom Line

Kansas might have enough talent to survive the difficult Nebraska defense, but most Big 12 teams need to beware of Nebraska the rest of the way. This is a decent team that can make the NCAA Tournament. Texas A&M was a quality win, and this would certainly be another one.

Thinking long term, this will be the last regular season matchup in a series that’s been comically unbalanced. So ends a rivalry that, like the football version, really never was.

Kansas 70, Nebraska 59

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