After losing three straight games by two points or less, Northwestern lost by eight, 68-60, to Purdue on Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. NU held a halftime lead, but the second half did the Wildcats in as the Boilermakers rolled away on the back of their star center, A.J. Hammons. The win was Purdue's third in a row, coming after back-to-back wins over ranked Iowa and Indiana.
Tonight, in Nebraska, the Wildcats are back at it as they face a Cornhuskers team that has lost its last two games and is tied for ninth in the Big Ten. Predicted by writers before the season to finish fifth in the conference behind stud juniors Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields, Nebraska has been a major disappointment as no one other than Petteway and Shields has stepped up.
Those two are the only Huskers to average more than 6.9 points per game (Petteway scores 18.6 per and Shields 16.3) which is a reason why they're 280th in the nation in scoring and 230th in field goal percentage. For comparison, Northwestern is 246th and 172nd in those respective categories. Clearly, Tim Miles' team is defensive-focused and has a very one-dimensional offense.
Both of those qualities make this game potentially winnable for Northwestern. The Wildcats are definitely not a lockdown defensive team, but since Nebraska has only two legitimate scoring threats, there aren't that many players that Chris Collins has to gameplan for. That could be an advantage for NU.
Here's everything you need to know about the game:
Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WGN, 720 AM in Chicagoland and wgnradio.com | 89.3 WNUR and wnur.org
Line: Nebraska is a pretty safe favorite, with the Huskers at minus-5 or minus-6, depending on the source. A similar spread was predicted on this week's Pound the Talk podcast.
KenPom: According to KenPom, Nebraska can be expected to win this matchup 70 percent of time with an expected score of 58-54. Not the worst scenario for Northwestern.
Key Stat: There are three important numbers to note about Nebraska's offense. First off, KenPom has the Huskers' adjusted offensive efficiency at 94.6 points per 100 possessions, which is 296th in the country. Basically, Nebraska's offense is worse than powerhouses such as Prairie View A&M, CSU Bakersfield and Fairleigh Dickinson. Also, the Huskers' offensive rebounding percentage of 25.1 is 328th in the country while their three-point shooting percentage of 316th. Pretty bad stuff for an offense that made it to the NCAA Tournament last season.
Check back here right before tip to follow along with us during the game on our gamethread.