NCAA tournament team previews: Nebraska Cornhuskers
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team's national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 19-12, 11-7 in the Big Ten
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 108.0 (101st) / 96.2 (28th)
Seed: No. 11 in West
Impact player: Terran Petteway, senior forward, 18.1 points, 4.9 rebounds per game, 82 percent from the free-throw line.
The Case For:
It's Nebrasketball! OK, so that clearly wasn't enough in the Big Ten tournament, when the Cornhuskers had a chance to sew up a no-doubt NCAA tournament bid and instead blew an 18-point lead and lost to Ohio State in the quarterfinals. But Tim Miles' crew had won eight of nine before that and chances are the good vibes about the first venture into the tournament since 1998 will be rekindled quickly.
Petteway developed into an All-Big Ten performer and can carry the scoring load, as only Shavon Shields (12.1) also averages in double figures. Mostly, the Cornhuskers win by controlling tempo and playing defense. They average just 65.3 possessions per game, ranking 277th nationally, but boast a top-30 defensive efficiency ranking. Nebraska won on the road at Michigan State and beat Wisconsin at home to end the regular season, so it has reason to feel it can play with the nation’s best teams.
The Case Against:
Obviously, this is a first-time venture for this roster and they happen to be playing a de facto road game against Baylor in San Antonio. (Though it'll be a good litmus test of Cornhuskers fan interest to see if the faithful caravans down from Lincoln.) At some point, Nebraska is going to have to score, and its effective field goal percentage (48.3) ranks only 238th in the country. And this is a team that won't often continue possessing the ball once a shot misses; the Cornhuskers' offensive rebounding percentage is just 26.1, ranking 325th in the nation. Having two players scoring in double figures will make them vulnerable if Petteway or Shields has a particularly off night. And the three-pointer isn't a weapon if Nebraska needs to mount a comeback, as the team has only made 184 shots from deep this season, ranking 218th nationally.
SI prediction: Lose to Baylor in second round View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts