The clock is ticking on the regular season and it can’t come soon enough for Nebraska, who has been in a hole since Isaac Copeland was injured more than a month ago. The Cornhuskers still have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, but it’s going to take a huge win, whether in this Game at Michigan or in the following two against Michigan State and Iowa. Needless to say, it doesn’t look great for the Huskers, especially with the Wolverines coming off a loss.
Michigan was just dealt a blow by losing on its home cOurt to an in-state rival and will want to get that loss quickly out of its memory. This one should help in surprisingly the first meeting between these teams. As expected, a lot of the numbers point to Michigan, whether because of its defense or because Nebraska ranks as one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten. It doesn’t look any easier in the matchups because the Wolverines have the players to combat anything the Huskers do well.
When Copeland went down, the Cornhuskers asked James Palmer (18.9 ppg) and Isaiah Roby (11.3 ppg) to do a little more, but neither have been consistent and rarely perform better than their season averages. It also doesn’t help that Palmer will be marked by excellent defenders Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews. The same goes for Roby, who won’t have an athletic advantage against Ignas Brazdeikis. Throw in point guard Glynn Watson, who scored 25 points in the most recent loss, and his matchup against Zavier Simpson. Michigan has one of the best defenses in the country for a reason and that’s because it can match up well at almost every position. That’s trouble for Nebraska who just doesn’t have the bodies to compete in a high-scoring Game.
The hope for the Huskers is to play slow and keep the scoring down, which is how they got recent wins over Minnesota and Northwestern, albeit at home. The problem is that they don’t do many things well defensively and the Wolverines have Jon Teske down low to capitalize on Nebraska’s lack of size. Teske isn’t a huge offensive threat, but in the right matchup, can be a nuisance and the Huskers only have one player above 6-foot-8 in Brady Heiman and he averages 8.8 minutes per Game. Teske comes in at 7-foot-1 and that’s an immediate problem. If he gets fed in the post, that will only open up looks everywhere else, whether that’s for Poole and Brazdeikis on the outside or for Matthews when he cuts to the hoop.
Prior to the loss to MSU, the Wolverines were destroying opponents at home, already beating teams like Maryland by 13 points and Wisconsin by nine. To beat Michigan on its home cOurt, you have to play elite defense and that’s not something Nebraska has often done. Throw in the Huskers last road loss (95-71) to Penn State and it’s hard to see them keeping close in this Game if they bring that same kind of defense.
Our Pick – Nebraska +12