Last week, we reviewed the players that will be making a run in the Big Ten this season for Nebraska.
Today, we'll be looking at everything else. Mainly the schedule, how brutal it is, and what our chances are of coming out of this whole thing alive. Casual fan or junkie, a quick look at what the Huskers have in front of them is enough to mail things in before the season starts.
But what are the chances that we can make a go at this thing? What if Doc is on to something this year? What if...we surprised a whole gob of people by actually giving the Big Ten more than it bargained for?
Okay, it's early. I haven't had much coffee. Perhaps I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. But it can't hurt to ask, and what kind of fans would we be if we don't take the time to examine the whole thing from top to bottom? So as we get ready for a huge game on the gridiron, we'll look at some things that will factor into this years basketball schedule with Sadler's boys.
Heck, you may even want to pay attention. Looks like the only basketball on television this winter will be the college kids!
Part Two | The Schedule and The Rest
Okay, so Nebraska hit an all-time low in the modern era a few years back. Things looked bleak, and fans were wondering if Doc had what it took to even be competitive with his squad in the Big XII. The Huskers posted a 2-14 conference record, playing what was essentially two seasoned-yet most likely cashed out-seniors....and then a whole slew of wide-eyed freshman and sophomores. The shooting was decent, but the rest was just bad. Very bad.
With the new season in 2010-11 came hope, as well as some help in the Husker back-court. A guy named Jeter showed that he was up to the task of leading the Huskers on the floor, and sparked something in his younger teammates. Players bulked up, players left the team....some got healthy, and some just plain ol' kept at it. The work paid off, in a 7th place finish in the conference. An average performance yes, but light years ahead of where they were just one season ago.
This year, the leader named Jeter, is gone. But the rest of the crew is back, and we've added a load of talent to help out. (But we covered that already, right??)
But wouldn't ya know it, we went and joined that new league. One that has decided to give us a trial by fire this season with a schedule from hell. As a nice gift from the Big Ten, we've been given a road streak that would break even the baddest of the hardwood. One that will likely make our season...or damn us straight to the depths of basketball irrelevance.
So, lets take a closer look...shall we?
Schedules | Non Conference Creampuffs - Conference Giants
Here's who we've got on the non-con slate: South Dakota, @USC, Rhode Island, Oregon, SDSU, Wake Forest, @ Creighton, Florida Gulf Coast, @TCU, Alcorn State, Central Michigan.
As of the end of last season, this was a ho-hum schedule. Just Oregon and Rhode Island looked to be somewhat formidable, and the only real threats to take the Big Red down before non-conference play started. Today...Creighton is now looking to be the MVC's top contender for the league title, while Wake Forest is picked to finish anywhere from 9th to 11th out of 12 ACC teams. Oregon is looking to be one of the top 5 teams in the Pac-12, with USC (Nov 14th) looking to be somewhere near the bottom.
Prediction: 9-2 (Losses: @Creighton, @TCU)
And here we have the Big Ten portion: Wisconsin, Michigan State, @Ohio State, @Illinois, Penn State, @Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio State, @Iowa, Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan, @Penn State, Illinois, @ Purdue, @Michigan State, Iowa, @Minnesota.
Yes, it's that bad. You have to admit this is a very very tough road ahead of us. Delaney and crew have dug this one up from the deepest depths, and decided to put us through an initiation of sorts. I can't fathom how we get out of this alive to be honest. If we can get two wins from the stretch (Dec 27th - Jan 15th), I'll be satisfied.Those are our first six conference games. Three wins and I'll be positively elated. But on the other hand, can you imagine the implications if Nebraska was to shock the world and take 4 or 5 games?
And it's all going to be on national television. Um, yay?!?!
Prediction: Our home games with Wisconsin and MSU are so early, we may have a shot at winning those games. If for no other reason than just the timing, as these are both solid teams. But I don't think we'd have a shot if these were late in the season, so it's a shot. Quite frankly, we'll need to win at least a few of those first six games. It's our only shot to have a decent record heading into March.
Of the 8 road games we play versus B1G opponents, I'm not confident that we'll win any more than 2. I think we'll take Iowa, and possibly Purdue. That said, we have 10 home games to really make the difference. Of those, I think we can get Wisconsin and MSU early. I also think we have a realistic chance to take down Minnesota, Indiana, Penn State, and wrap up with the series sweep of Iowa. Six and two equals an 8-10 conference record.
Overall, that would equate to a prediction of 17-12 (8-10) for me. Of course, this is so early..it's very difficult to tell what could happen. If the newbies in our back court come out and dazzle, we could reach 20 wins easily. TIme will tell.
Interesting Scheduling Points:
-Nebraska will play a total of 12 games versus teams who qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year. 10 of these games are home/home match-ups versus conference foes. (Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, and Illinois)
-Like the football team, we open Big Ten play with Wisconsin, although this one's at home. (Note- The basketball season is not structured with Leaders/Legends divisions. Scheduling format will be similar to what we had with the Big XII. We'll play seven teams twice, and four teams once.)
-Nebraska's last home game of the season will be a match up with the Hawkeyes. I wonder if they talk as much garbage during basketball season as they do during football season?
-The Huskers first six league games will be against NCAA Tournament qualifying teams from 2011. Dec 27th - Jan 15th: versus Wisconsin, MSU, tOSU, Illinois, PSU, and again at Wisconsin.
-Number of games broadcast on either television or streamed at BTN.com - 27
Recruiting, Facilities Updates and Misc.
I've been reserving my judgment for Doc and his abilities to coach this team, until I felt that I fully saw the depth of his impact as a recruiter and not just a coach. Since Sadler has taken the reigns, we've seen him grab local players, guys from JUCO schools, and even players from other countries. What I hadn't really seen yet was a steal or two from a region that typically, coaches from Nebraska weren't supposed to steal from.
We've started to see that I think, which really makes the storyline of this season to me. The courting (and landing) of guards Bo Spencer and Dylan Talley have really caught my attention. Doc pulled these guys right out from under the noses of the SEC and ACC regions, and they aren't exactly bench warmers. These are players, man.
All signs are pointing to Spencer and Talley being immediate points for the Husker offense. If this pans out for Doc, I think we can expect to see him do some of the same in the Ohio Valley and eastward.
Another interesting topic is the unwavering support from Tom Osborne, and his repeated backing of Doc as the Husker basketball coach. The commitment made through building a new arena, and publicly backing his guy, is comforting. Even after a miserable season in 2009-10, Dr Tom see something he likes, and he's putting his name behind it. Doc has his critics, but do they have the vision? Tom thinks he's our coach, and that's good enough for me, how bout you?
Ribbon cutting ceremonies were completed a few weeks ago for the Hendricks Training Complex. This is great news for the program, as it is essentially the first of two pieces that will be a first-class facility for the basketball programs. Once we see the Haymarket Arena completed in 2013, the Huskers will be able to develop current players and recruit to it's fullest extent. With better facilities comes better recruiting. With better recruiting comes better players. With better players comes the chance to win more games. And that's the whole point, right?
Earlier this month, Doc Sadler stated that his biggest emphasis this pre-season has been practicing ball security. He couldn't be more spot on, as the Huskers really struggled with that last season. Nebraska didn't commit all that many, as they ranked 5th in the league in turnovers per game. What killed them was the timing. Case in point: Nebraska versus Texas. Yes, this was a monumental win, but it was a missed 3 pointer away from being a monumental collapse. The Big Red just about coughed up a 12 point lead in the final few minutes due to careless ball handling (along with poor rebounding).
This year, it's going to be exciting to see what happens. Doc won't dissappoint on defense, and will look to be top 10 in the nation in scoring defense. The players are coming back, with McCray, Diaz, Walker, and Richardson all having started for the last few years. That leaves the wild-card.
If Spencer and Talley can mean points immediately, we might see an upstart Husker team really make waves in the conference. It's awfully hard to beat a great defensive team when they can score on you as well. We can only hope that Nebraska fits that bill in 2011-12.