Pregame Glance: Nebraska

Written January 1st, 2013 by Ken

Ken, formerly of Silver Bullets, joins our merry band of basketball writers! Make sure to give him a warm welcome.

It’s the start of the conference basketball season, and the Buckeyes get the newest member of the conference at home. Nebraska appears to be having an improved season under new head coach Tim Miles, but we’ll need to see how they do in Big Ten play before we can fairly evaluate their progress. Let’s get to it!

They're coming to...husk your corn.

School: University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Founded: 1859
Student Population: 19,345
School Type: Public
Division: NCAA Division 1
Conference: Big Ten
Stadium: Bob Devaney Sports Center
Seating: 13,595
Opened: 1976
Head Coach: Tim Miles
Experience 1st year

We get the new year off with the start of conference play as the 10th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2) host Nebraska (9-4). At first blush, this should be a routine win for the Buckeyes since the Huskers aren’t that good of a team. They were 12-17 last year, their road record this year is 1-2 while the Buckeyes are 8-1 at home. Ohio State is also undefeated against unranked teams this year. Nebraska is clearly an unranked team.

A significant portion of my game preview will be based upon the excellent information at Statsheet. A measure of teams capabilities that I will refer to will be the Four Factors; effective FG%, TO%, Off Rebounds Rate and FT Rate. There will be other metrics thrown in as well, just to flesh out the teams performances.

While Ohio State is averaging 78.3 points on offense and yielding 57.5 on defense, a nearly 21 point differential, Nebraska’s numbers are 61.7 and 60.8, a not-much differential. The below table has the comparative Four Factors as well as possessions per game (PPP), points per possession – offense (PPP-O) and points allowed per possession (PPP-D).

Nebraska Ohio State
eFG% 48.3% 52.7%
TO% 18.7% 15.5%
Off Reb 27.5% 37.3%
FT Rate 31.9% 37.8%
PPG 63 67
PPP (O) 0.98 1.17
PPP (D) 0.96 0.86

I’m not going to drill too deeply into these numbers, but a quick glance indicates OSU to have an advantage across the board. Ohio State is much more efficient on offense, despite our well documented shooting woes. One possible explanation is that OSU rebound’s their misses better than Nebraska, affording more close range FG attempts.

Fortunately, Nebraska will not put a lot of height on the floor at the same time, which tends to give the Buckeyes fits. Their starting lineup goes 5’9” (not a misprint), 6’2”, 6’4”, 6’10” and 6’11”. Their big men, Ubel and Almeida combine for 40 minutes of game time, so it‘s unlikely OSU will have to deal with both of them on the floor at once for extended periods.. It seems that Rivers (6’7”) will spell either of them.

I would think that Craft/Smith/Scott will match up well with Nebraska’s guards; I’d even hold out hope that Lenzelle may get some post-up moments. I anticipate the Ravenel/Williams tandem to hold their own in low-post situations, and for Thompson and Ross to have beneficial matchups on the wing. I really, really want to see Thomas get involved via screens, cross-lane cuts, whatever, because he appears to be a bit to big for a Husker guard and a bit too quick for a forward to cover him. If nothing else, his tendency to crash the offensive boards will be a big plus for him.

Nebraska #15 R. Gallegos 13 35.692 13.0 43.4 68.4 34.4 2.769 1.0 1.154 0.385 2.308
Nebraska #24 D. Talley 13 35.154 13.923 35.4 67.9 36.8 5.769 2.385 0.923 0.077 1.923
Nebraska #13 B. Ubel 13 31.077 13.154 54.3 78.6 11.1 6.538 1.308 0.846 0.308 3.154
Nebraska #3 B. Parker 13 26.0 4.231 43.5 72.2 33.3 1.615 3.0 0.769 0.077 1.692
Nebraska #32 A. Almeida 13 18.308 7.615 57.5 62.5 0.0 4.462 0.462 0.308 1.385 3.077
Ohio-state #1 D. Thomas 12 32.167 19.75 45.9 79.2 39.7 6.917 1.75 0.5 0.333 1.5
Ohio-state #4 A. Craft 12 31.083 9.0 38.0 78.1 34.2 3.333 4.75 1.583 0.083 2.5
Ohio-state #32 L. Smith Jr. 12 27.167 11.167 45.5 58.3 40.8 5.0 2.0 0.667 0.167 1.667
Ohio-state #12 S. Thompson 12 22.667 7.667 47.8 78.6 30.0 3.833 1.25 0.917 0.75 1.833
Ohio-state #23 A. Williams 12 15.667 4.5 70.8 51.3 0.0 3.75 0.167 0.25 1.333 2.5

One interesting note is that Miles has tended to get more minutes from his starters than Thad has this season. I know, it just doesn’t sound right, does it? I can think of two likely reasons, one of which is not that Thad is going against form. One possible explanation is that Thad has been doing more early season mixing-and-matching with his lineup to find something that works well. The other possible reason, is that Ohio State has been in a few laughers so far, so there were ample opportunities to empty the bench.

So, what happens? I see the Buckeyes start the game in their usual ‘warm-up’ mode, then about halfway through the 1st half, Thad calls a time out and delivers a Come-to-Naismith talk that reminds the team that this is finally a conference game. It will be a somewhat competitive 1st half, then OSU pulls away in 2nd half. Maybe not a ’Chicago State 2nd half’, but the Buckeyes will clearly exert their will and talent on Nebraska. Actually, I’d like to see OSU put this game away early to be able to rest the starters prior to the Illinois game on Saturday.

I think this squad has been trying to find its rhythm through the pre-conference portion of the schedule, and Nebraska will be a good opening opponent to work out any kinks. Go Bucks.

Tip-off is on January 2nd at 6:00PM at the Value City Arena. The game is televised on the BTN.

WARNING: Do not allow the following character around any children.


  1. WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    January 2nd, 2013 at 7:20 am

    good stuff Ken and WELCOME to the “gang” it be interesting to note that the Huskers were a middle of the road Bball team in the Big12 prior to coming to the B1G, having almost won 20 games in each of their last six(save for 09-10) in the conference. 20-13 in 07-08 being their best of late and a second round loss in the NIT. 12-18 last season may be a sign of the times for them, unless they can use the B1G to recruit better.
    Nebraska is a football school for sure and theyll really feel like one against the Buckeyes.


    KenNo Gravatar
    January 2nd, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Thanks, WVa, I appreciate it. Good perspective on Nebraska’s relatively recent basketball history, I’d forgotten about it. No doubt that the Huskers’ calling card is their football program, and quite possibly basball as well. Basketball doesn’t come to mind. Too bad TMagic doesn’t play point guard, although I’m sure he’d be pretty good with the bounce passes.


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