Kansas Vs. Nebraska: RE-Viewing The Huskers

We've already previewed Nebraska once just a few weeks ago before the Corn stepped into Allen Fieldhouse and gave the Jayhawks a little scare.

While the faces have remained the same, some things have in fact changed about Nebraska since the first meeting in Lawrence.  Or perhaps it's more a matter of Nebraska has actually shown the ability to win a few games and be who they claimed to be on paper prior to the Big 12 season beginning.

The Huskers are now 15-6 overall and 3-4 in the conference.  Are they the most difficult matchup for the Jayhawks, hardly.  What they do though is ugly it up and play defense.  A few have circled this one as a potential stumbling block.  Let's RE-View the Huskers and find out why.

Rankings:

AP Poll
NR
RPI
#89
SOS
#149
SOS Projected
#77

Style

First off it's starting to feel like Doc Sadler and the Huskers were made for Big 10 basketball.  The team is committed to being an annoyingly effective defensive basketball team while slowly and deliberately working on the offensive end. 

Nebraska currently ranks 10th in the NCAA in terms of defensive efficiency.  On the flip side the Corn are just 128th in terms of offensive efficiency.  They don't attack the glass on the offensive end because they're setting up the defense before they even know if they've missed a shot.  Because of that, second chance points are minimal.  At the same time, the Husker opponents typically see even less in the way of second chance points as the Husker defense is geared toward giving you one shot, one bad shot and then taking possession of the basketball.

It's not pretty, it's not really fun and it still needs work, but Doc Sadler has brought the team along from a few years ago and they are starting to land some nice wins on the home court which is what makes this game a little bit scary.

Perhaps the biggest improvement in these last few years has been on the interior.  When Sadler started out at Nebraska, some might recall he had one of the shortest teams in the NCAA.  Now with Jorge Diaz, Ogre Almeida and Brandon Ubel all consistently in the rotation, the Huskers have a solid three players measuring 6'10" or bigger.  It's allowed Sadler's philosophy to transition from a non-conference cupcake killer to a team that can give a ranked Texas A&M a loss in Lincoln. 

Again, it's not perfect and it's not to the point where it's winning any conference titles this year but it is a little bit of a scary style if Kansas struggles offensively in Lincoln the same way they did in Lawrence.  That was a game that the Jayhawks perhaps leaned a little on the home crowd and that won't be the case tomorrow in Lincoln.  The Huskers do show up for basketball even though they haven't always been good and they most certainly show up for Kansas.

 Offensive Averages:

Points
68.0
215th / 11th
Assists
13.0
172nd / 10th
Rebounds
36.2
115th / 8th
FG Pct
47.5
32nd / 4th
Defensive Averages:
Points
57.1
6th / 11th
Assists
10.1
15th / 10th
Rebounds
32.2
66th / 8th
FG Pct
36.8
4th / 4th

Player Updates

From a player production standpoint not much has changed for the Huskers since the first matchup.  Jorge Diaz and Lance "don't call me Derek" Jeter lead the charge.  Diaz averages 10.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest while Jeter checks in with 10.8 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. 

Andre Almeida is a player that gave Kansas a little trouble in Lawrence with his mammoth frame and with the departure of Christian Standhardinger just prior to the Jayhawk game, Almeida's numbers have been on the up and up.  Almeida and Ubel have both settled into their roles with the team a little more and the Husker bench as a whole still goes a solid 10 deep.  All in all the roster provides very little in the way of star power, but the players know their respective roles and they play the Doc Sadler system well.

 

 

Husker Trends

Since the last meeting the Huskers are 2-2.  Two wins at home, two losses on the road. This one is obviously in Lincoln.  The impressive thing is the margin of victory and it shows how close the Corn are to being a more respected team.  At home the wins over Colorado and Texas A&M combined to average a double digit win margin.  On the road the Corn have been close.  Minus the Kansas State loss this week Nebraska lost to Kansas by 3 and Texas Tech by just one.

If I'm playing the Corn at home, I'm not so worried.  If I'm playing them on the road after an odd travel week with Missouri coming to Lawrence on Monday, I might raise an eyebrow.  Nebraska will be ready for this one. 

 

Prediction Time

I think the Hawks have turned a corner personally.  Texas was a tough loss and while excuses don't win championships it's understandable why Kansas might drop that one.  Colorado was a game where the Jayhawks played well on one end but not on another and they still had a few things to resolve off the court. 

Kansas State and Texas Tech were dismantlings.  A team back at 100% in terms of personnel and a team that looked back at 100% in terms of their emotion.  Nebraska won't make it easy but the Jayhawks have been hitting from outside and the Morri and Thomas Robinson have been a load. 

I think Kansas wins this one by 9 at the end of the day, although I wouldn't be opposed to another 20+ point victory and one final sendoff to Nebraska as they head to the Big 10(+2).

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