Meet the Opponent: The Nebraska Cornhuskers

Tom Brew

LINCOLN, Neb. — It's a given this season that Big Ten teams pretty much do not lose on their home courts. So winning on the road is very hard, but Indiana has its best conference shot Saturday night at Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers are just 7-12 overall and 2-4 in the league. They do have quality Big Ten wins at home, beating Purdue 70-56 on Dec. 13 and Iowa 76-70 on Jan. 7. Their other conference home game was a blowout loss last week to Rutgers, a team that's pretty good, as Indiana fans know from Wednesday night's loss.

First-year coach Fred Hoiberg has a major rebuilding job on his hands, but his team can still be scary good at times because they can shoot 3-pointers. Indiana fans know that all too well from the December matchup in Bloomington, where Nebraska took Indiana to overtime before finally losing 96-90. The Cornhuskers made 12 3-pointers in that game.

Here are the particulars for Saturday's game: 

  • Who: Indiana Hoosiers (13-4, 3-3 in Big Ten) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-12, 2-4 in Big Ten)
  • When: 7 p.m. ET, Saturday, Jan. 18
  • Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Neb. (sold out)
  • Matchup Predictor:  Indiana has a 66.2 percent chance of winning, according to ESPN's Basketball Power Index.
  • Poll rankings: Neither team is ranked in the AP and Coaches top-25 polls, but Indiana is receiving votes. Indiana is 29th in both polls.
  • Kenpom.com rankings: Indiana is No. 41, dropping six spots after losing to Rutgers on Wednesday. Nebraska is No. 133, the lowest-ranked team in the Big Ten. 
  • TV: Big Ten Network
  • Announcers: Drew Carter, Stephan Bardo
  • Radio: Indiana Radio Network
  • Announcers: Don Fischer, Eric Suhr, Joe Smith

Here are three things to know about the Cornhuskers:

1. Surprisingly, they are beatable at home

Because there's been a near-complete overhaul of Nebraska's roster, its gotten off to a hit-and-miss start under Hoiberg. It was especially bad early, when the Cornhuskers lost nonconference games at home to UC-Riverside, Southern Utah and North Dakota.

The Huskers are 2-1 at home in Big Ten play, looking great against Purdue and Iowa in wins, and losing by 16 to Rutgers. Iowa plays a game similar to Indiana, playing inside out, and Nebraska did a good job of taking that away. Look for Holberg to game-plan that way against Indiana, too

2. They don't turn the ball over much

Nebraska enters the weekend leading the Big Ten in turnover margin at plus-3.0 per game. The Huskers have committed 12 or fewer turnovers in each of the last nine contests. NU leads the Big Ten by committing 11.1 turnovers per game. 

It helps that they play three guards who can all handle the ball well and are interchanable at all three perimeter positions. They are also careful in Holberg's offense, not trying to force things. A lot of that has to do with Cam Macks skills, too. He ranks third nationally among all power conference players with a 3.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play. Only five power conference players as of Jan. 16 have a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in league play. Indiana hasn't been great at on-ball pressure this season, and  that needs to be better on Saturday night.

They can score in bunches with multiple 3-point shooters

As Indiana learned in the December meeting, Nebraska has four guys who can fill it up from the 3-point line. Forward Thorir Thorbjarnarson is making 48.2 percent of his 3-pointers, good for third in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage entering the weekend. He is 27-of-56 from long range this season after making only 6 3-pointers total during his first two seasons in Lincoln.

Indiana fans remember Dachon Burke, Jr., hitting a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left to tie the first meeting. Nebraska has seven guys who have made at least 15 3-pointers this season,(Indiana has two).  

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