By Alex Hsi
Record: 22-9 (13-5 in B1G)
Tournament Seed: 4
First Round Opponent: Winner of #13 Iowa or #12 Rutgers vs. #5 Michigan
The Huskers are in the midst of their best season to date in the Big Ten. Finishing regular season play in fourth place, the Huskers won 13 conference games- a program record. Led by junior guard James Palmer Jr., the Huskers have played an exciting brand of basketball. However, while the Huskers can consider this season a success, they have yet to lock up a birth to the big dance. Nebraska’s only win against a ranked team in 2017/2018 came against the Michigan Wolverines on January 18th. Big Red has also suffered embarrassing losses against St. John’s, UCF, and Illinois. In order to prove their worth to the selection committee, the Huskers must really heat up in the B1G Tournament. Luckily for Nebraska fans, their team has been red hot. The Cornhuskers have won 10 out of their past 12 games, including a monumental victory against fellow bubble team Penn State on the final day of the regular season. Thus, they have established themselves as the top B1G bubble team going into MSG for the tournament. An impressive showing figures to put them safely on the right side of the bubble, while an early exit might just kill all dreams of a NCAA Tournament appearance. Nebraska will be the most interesting team to watch this week.
Players to Watch:
James Palmer Jr. does it all for the Huskers. The go-to scorer has been unstoppable against B1G opponents, averaging 18 points-per-game on the season (more like 20 in B1G play). He shoots over 50% from the field and seemingly provides at least one highlight-reel dunk per game. However, Palmer, a transfer from the Miami Hurricanes, is not alone. Isaac Copeland Jr., (another Jr. junior transfer) recently arriving from the Georgetown Hoyas, has been play the role of Robin to Palmer’s Batman. The versatile forward. has improved his play throughout the course of the season, and often comes up clutch in important games.
Senior guards Anton Gill and Evan Taylor have been effective all season, and have even shown flashes of brilliance. If these veteran leaders for the Huskers can up their game in the postseason, Nebraska will be extremely difficult to stop. Having players besides Palmer and Copeland step up for the Cornhuskers can really put them over the edge and into B1G Tournament championship contention. Isaiah Roby, a sophomore forward, has been absolutely lights out as a shooter. Roby has shot 57% in 2017/2018 and is 42% from behind the arc. Getting Roby more scoring opportunities will make the Huskers an elite, dangerous team.
Although the Huskers have put together an impressive campaign, they simply haven’t proven themselves against top competition. While they have a two-round bye and have a great chance to beat either Michigan or Iowa/Rutgers in their first game at MSG, it is highly unlikely that the Huskers would be able to knock off Purdue or Michigan State and make an extended run to the championship. That being said, the Huskers seem to be on the right side of the NCAA bubble, and have a lot to play for. A potential Nebraska vs. Michigan matchup might just be the most underrated game of the entire B1G Tournament. Look for the Huskers to come out strong, but falter against the B1G boys.