Friday, January 25, 2013

Road Trip to Nebraska Offers Opportunities for NU

For the first time in 37 years Northwestern will travel to Nebraska on Saturday. It is a game which offers NU a chance to move to .500 in the Big Ten and to continue what has been a very impressive road season.

This is a game which Northwestern will enter as a favorite. Nebraska has struggled this year and currently has only one Big Ten win. That win came over Penn State last weekend and was a game more lost by Penn State than won by Nebraska. What's gone wrong for UN-L? Turnovers are probably the biggest issue. They've turned the ball over more than they given out assists this year. A second issue is shooting. Nebraska has struggled to generate offense and is especially bad from three point game where they make less than 30% of their attempts. All this doesn't mean Nebraska doesn't have some talented players, but they're a team which isn't deep and which doesn't seem to have enough fire power to really score enough to get many Big Ten wins.

The best player Nebraska has is center Brandon Ubel. At 6-10 he's big enough to cause NU trouble on the glass and he's got some athleticism as well. He is not some,y a big guy who plays with his back to the basket and never moves from the lane. He will be another good challenge for NU centers Alex Olah and Mike Turner. They've faced nothing but tough games of late and they're really played okay. I'll also be curious to see if Nikola Cerina gets any playing time. He saw his first real significant action since his injury on Thursday. Will he be able to play more? Will it help if he does? You'd certainly think another big body would help NU as they battle in the Big Ten.

Nebraska also features guard Dylan Talley who is probably the team's best all around player. He's a guy who has the ability to have a big game and NU needs to make sure they contain him as it would be unfortunate if he got hot and had a game which beat NU's zone single handily as has happened
with certain players in the past.

Of course, maybe NU can stay in man to man this game. Nebraska isn't top to bottom dramatically better than NU, but with as much as they turn the ball over and struggle from three point range I tend to think that the 1-3-1 would be useful in this contest.

Prediction: I haven't been as on the money as I have in the past prediction-wise, but I'm hoping I'll on target this time around. I see this as a game NU wins because of Nebraska's lack of consist scoring. Plus, NU should take advantage of some turnovers. Still, I don't expect a real high scoring game unless NU gets hot from three point range. Northwestern, 58 Nebraska, 50

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