With the dust settled on rosters for the 2023-24 season, we’re going team-by-team in the Big Ten to assess where everyone stands and how things could shake out this year.
Next up is Nebraska, who enters year five under Fred Hoiberg still searching for its first postseason appearance under the former Chicago Bulls head coach. Nebraska closed the regular season on a strong run last year, with six wins in its last eight games, including upsets over Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, and Iowa. But the Cornhuskers still finished just 9-11 in Big Ten play and 16-16 overall, and they underwent a lot of roster turnover this offseason.
- Derrick Walker (13.6 PPG)
- Sam Griesel (12.0 PPG)
- Emmanuel Bandoumel (8.4 PPG)
- Wilhelm Breidenbach (3.6 PPG)
- Denim Dawson (1.7 PPG)
- Quaran McPherson
- Kesei Tominaga, G, (13.1 PPG)
- Juwan Gary, F, (9.5 PPG)
- C.J. Wilcher, G, (8.0 PPG)
- Jamarques Lawrence, G, (5.0 PPG)
- Sam Hoiberg, G, (4.1 PPG)
- Blaise Keita, F, (2.0 PPG)
- Ramel Lloyd Jr., G, (redshirted)
- Jarron Coleman, G, (14.3 PPG at Ball State)
- Brice Williams, G, (13.8 PPG at Charlotte)
- Rienk Mast, F, (13.8 PPG at Bradley)
- Josiah Allick, F, (8.4 PPG at New Mexico)
- Ahron Ulis, G, (6.1 PPG at Iowa)
Freshmen (Rankings from 247Sports Composite)
- Eli Rice, G, (No. 200)
- Matar Diop, F, (unranked)
RETURNING MINUTES: 52.6 percent (per barttorvik.com)
VS. INDIANA: Jan. 3, at Nebraska; Feb. 21 in Bloomington
WHY IT WILL WORK
Kesei Tominaga faces some big expectations this season after a big step forward last year, and he’ll need to reach that All-Big Ten potential for the Cornhuskers to be a winning team. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range with high volume last season, so it’s possible. He’s a dangerous shooter when he gets hot. Outside of Tominaga, Nebraska has some interesting transfer portal additions whose play will really determine how good or bad the team is. Brice Williams and Rienk Mast both ranked in the top 100 of the 247Sports transfer portal rankings. Bart Torvik is projecting four of the transfers (all but Ulis) to play four of the five biggest minute shares on the team, so last year’s squad’s performance is only so indicative of this year. If the pieces come together well, Nebraska could be a fun team.
WHY IT WON’T
There’s always a chance, with teams like this, that the new pieces don’t come together as well as initially hoped. Nebraska is also replacing second-team All-Big Ten selection Derrick Walker in the frontcourt, which could be easier said than done. He led the team in points, rebounds, and assists per game last year — Tominaga is not the distributor some may assume he is at guard. Williams and Jarron Coleman should be able to make up the assist production, and then some. But there are real question marks about Nebraska’s depth and overall talent compared to the rest of the league.
This could be the best team Hoiberg’s had in his tenure in Lincoln. Unfortunately, that’s not a high bar: the Cornhuskers haven’t finished with a winning record since Tim Miles’ last season, in 2018-19. Nebraska could snap that streak this year, and this group has some upside to make a little noise in Big Ten play. That said, there’s still a healthy distance between the top teams in the league and these Huskers. They’re closer to the bottom four teams in the league than the top half of the league. But Nebraska was a frisky team capable of an upset in the second half of Big Ten play last year, and this squad could have a chance to play that sort of role again.
BIG TEN OUTLOOK: Bottom half of the conference
PRIOR ROSTER ANALYSES:
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”