The Kansas Jayhawks get back into action tonight as they try to break a surprising two game losing streak. To help get us ready for the game, I spoke with Patrick Gerhart of Corn Nation, the SB Nation site dedicated to covering the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He was kind enough to a answer a few questions for us.
RCT: Nebraska went to the NCAA Tournament back in 2014 in what most fans thought was the payoff of a rebuilding process, but the team hasn't come close to repeating those results since. What were the expectations for this team coming into the year?
CN: Not much in terms of high expectations to be honest. The past few years have been rough and this year was very much a wild card. On paper, the Huskers should have a decent team that could play with a good chunk of the teams they will play as the season goes on. However, Miles teams have underperformed over the past few years. Especially on offense. This has lead many fans and pundits to have little faith in the product moving forward.
2014 was an interesting situation. Nebraska won a lot of close games that they probably shouldn’t have. They were terrible statistically that year and that was proven in the first round. There was no way to sustain that the following season.
RCT: I've heard rumors that coach Tim Miles is on the hot seat. What does he have to do to keep his job after this season?
CN: As of now, I would say he would have to at least make the NIT and either get a high seed and or go far in the tournament. Anything else would most likely have him gone from the Husker program. The athletic department, City of Lincoln and alumni have dumped a ton of money and resources into the success of Nebraska Basketball. The time has come for results to happen.
RCT: Who can we expect to lead the charge for the Cornhuskers in this game?
CN: Keep a close eye on James Palmer Jr. He is a transfer from the University of Miami and has done very well so far this year. He is currently leading the team with 14.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, and 2.6 apg. He is talented, athletic, and should match up well against the Jayhawk guards.
Another transfer to watch is Issac Copeland from Georgetown. He is a 6’9” forward who is averaging 12.7 ppg and 6.6 rpg. Unlike KU, Nebraska’s forwards have been very hit or miss and it’s nice to have a reliable threat at the position for once. He’s had a couple of rough games off an on this season but can be a problem if he gets hot.
Finally, I would mention Glynn Watson Jr. He is averaging 13.9 ppg at point and has done a decent job leading the team so far this season. I would consider him the teams most well rounded player as he can play defense as well as offense. Something that can be hard to find in any player now a days.
RCT: What matchups are you dreading in this game? Which ones look to favor Nebraska?
CN: Lagerald Vick is probably the one player I know could light Nebraska up fairly easily if he is left unchecked. The guy has been stellar in most of the games this season and could easily give Nebraska a headache as the game goes on.
I will say I am happy Frank Manson III is now in the NBA. He had way too much fun last season.
RCT: Do you guys ever miss being in the Big 12?
CN: Outside of the short drives to Lawrence, Ames, and Manhattan….nope. Give us a call when the Big 12 media contract runs out in 2025.
RCT: Prediction Time! How do you see this game going? Who leads the game in scoring?
CN: I like the Huskers chances in this game. I see them playing well against Kansas early on and putting enough of a scare to get people watching the game. However, this is a Bill Self lead team and that has its advantages. This is a better Nebraska squad than KU faced last year but I don’t see it being enough to pull off the win. Let’s go with the Huskers playing it close for most of the game but the Jayhawks pulling off the win. University of Kansas 75 University of Nebraska 63
RCT: BONUS - MegaMan or Pac-Man?
CN: I’m going with Pac-Man because I’ve played it more in my life. You’re talking to a bad gamer here.
A big thanks to Patrick for helping us out today. Don't forget to check out the questions I answered for him over on Corn Nation.