As Big Ten Tournament play begins, this is simply one the Hoosiers cannot afford to lose.
Irrespective of where you think Indiana is as it relates to the NCAA Tournament, there can be no missteps against a reeling Nebraska program. The optics would simply be too damaging. The last place Cornhuskers announced on Monday that they would be without starting guards Cam Mack (12 ppg) and Dachon Burke (12.2 ppg) this week, their second and third leading scorers this season.
The Hoosiers need to make it a three-game sweep of Nebraska in convincing fashion and move on to a Thursday night contest against Penn State.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
No. 14 Nebraska (7-24, 2-18) vs. No. 11 Indiana (19-12, 9-11)
- Tip time: Wednesday / 8:30 p.m. ET (tip-time approximate)
- Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (20,000), Indianapolis, Ind.
- Television: BTN (Stream) — Brandon Gaudin and Stephen Bardo
- Series: Indiana leads 14-7 (Last meeting: Indiana won 82-74, 1/18/20)
- Point Spread: Vegas likes IU by around 14 points. KenPom likes IU by 10.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Nebraska Statistical Leaders (available players)
- Haanif Cheatham (G) 13.0 ppg
- Thorir Thorbjarnarson (G) 8.8 ppg
- Yvan Ouedraogo (F) 6.5 rpg
- Thorir Thorbjarnarson (G) 4.8 rpg
- Jervay Green (G) 1.9 apg
- Thorir Thorbjarnarson (G) 1.1 spg
- Kevin Cross (F) .4 bpg
Highlights from the first two meetings
A look at KenPom No. 152 Nebraska’s noteworthy metrics vs. No. 39 Indiana
The fastest team in the B1G. With an average possession length of 15.4 seconds in Big Ten games, Nebraska has played the most uptempo style of any team in the league. Coupled with an average defensive possession length of 17.8 (No. 6), the combined tempo that the Cornhuskers play on both ends is the fastest in the conference. With Mack and Burke out this weekend at Minnesota, that led to 107 points for the Golden Gophers in a 32 point loss. Minnesota had a season best 1.36 points per possession in that contest.
Fast does not equal efficient. While Nebraska is playing the uptempo style that head coach Fred Hoiberg likes, the results are not there yet. The Cornhuskers are last in league games in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The defensive end has been especially challenging, as Nebraska is allowing a league-worst 53 percent effective field goal percentage, including 54.3 percent from two-point range.
Turning teams over. What Nebraska has done well this year is force turnovers. The Cornhuskers are No. 2 in league games forcing miscues on 18 percent of possessions, including steals on 9.6 percent of possessions — the best mark in the league. IU averaged 15.5 turnovers in the first two meetings. But as with everything for Nebraska right now, those figures come with asterisks. Mack and Burke were Nebraska’s steals leaders, combining to generate 2.7 of the team’s 6.9 steals per contest.
Offensive rebounding on both ends a major challenge. The Cornhuskers are a very undersized team by Big Ten standards, and that has created problems on both ends of the floor when it comes to rebounding. Nebraska is No. 13 (22.5 percent) and No. 14 (32.8) percent when it comes to securing and allowing offensive rebounds, respectively. Mack was third on the team in rebounds at 4.5 per contest. IU averaged 15.5 offensive rebounds in the two earlier meetings and the Hoosiers held a plus-41 overall rebounding margin combined in those two contests.
Top 100 player rankings:
- Yvan Ouedraogo is No. 44 nationally with an offensive rebounding rate of 13.2 percent.
- Haanif Cheatham is No. 44 nationally committing just 1.6 fouls per 40 minutes.
- Note: Nebraska will severely miss Mack and his 36.3 percent assist rate (No. 20 in the country). He averaged 6.4 assists per game.
ADDITIONAL GAME COVERAGE
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