Predictions are a tough gig.
Most of us can make a decent forecast based on records, stats, players, etc. But I'm finding it more and more to be a waste of time, trying to predict anything in college sports these days. It's like ADD has spread to the collective psyche of the teams and athletes, and at any time your world can be turned upside down by a team you were supposed to beat.
I'm not making fun of ADD, or people diagnosed with it. I'm pretty sure I suffer from it at some level. Maybe I"m just re-hashing what sports has been all about since the day of the roman gladiators? Your ranking is never safe. That's what makes it worth watching, right?
Well- Kansas comes to Lincoln today for the last time, and after what we've seen midway through this season... I haven't the slightest idea what to make of it. A word of advice...don't put money on this game! After the jump, we'll look at two of the possible outcomes for the 3pm matchup, and try to make some sense of what's happened thus far with the Nebraska basketball team.
#2 Kansas 21-1 (6-1) @ Nebraska 15-6 (3-4)
I'd really hoped that Nebraska would be riding a surge into this game, and have some momentum to leverage against an ever improving Jayhawk team. That's not the case, after what was easily our worst performance of the season on Wednesday night in Manhattan. Toney McCray had a case of "Niles Paul - Syndrome" and couldn't hold onto the ball. Diaz couldn't rebound, and even Lance Jeter had just 4 assists in lieu of his 16 points.
Did the snowstorm have an effect on the team? Distractions with Jorge-Brian Diaz scrambling to make it into town by the shoot-around? Ray Gallegos and Chris Neimann seeing some long awaited playing time, thus not as sharp as they could've been?
All I know... it was ugly.
Nebraska committed a season high 22 turnovers as a team, which basically sealed the deal. We played typical Nebraska-style defense, and limited the Cats to just 41% shooting. But anytime you turn the rock over the way they did, you can only pray to stay within reach. The guys sounded slow and sloppy, and played behind for the basically the entire game. What was to be our 1st road win in over a season of play, turned out to be just what fans have come to expect from Nebraska. Another head-scratcher in the "L" column.
Kansas on the other hand, who got a wake up call against Texas a few weeks back, seems to be ironing out any wrinkles before the final stretch of the season. Coincidentally, Kansas has destroyed their last two opponents Texas Tech and KSU - two teams that we couldn't handle recently on the road. While Nebraska is treading water and trying to find it's place in the Big 12, Kansas is making "statements". The Jayhawks lead the country in field goal percentage at 51.9%, which is evident when watching Brady Morningstar, Josh Selby, and the Morris brothers convert on just about every ridiculous shot they throw up.
So, let's go over a few of the possible outcomes of today's game. I haven't been drinking, unless you count my four cups of coffee by 7am, and these are very real possibilities...so read on.
There's no reason to realistically believe we can win this game. Kansas is heating up at the right time of the year, and has already dropped a game in conference. Do we really think Bill Self is going to let it happen again? To Nebraska? In what will likely be the last meeting between these schools for a very long time?
Want more concrete evidence that Kansas could steamroll the Huskers today? The Jayhawks are making a charge when it counts. Take a quick glance at what KU has done since the eye-opening loss to Texas on Jan. 22nd:
Season / Prior to Texas
||Since Loss to Texas|
|Points Per Game||82.1
|Field Goal Percentage||51.4||54.7|
|Three Point Percentage||25.4||43.9|
Although the Cornhuskers pushed Kansas to the limit back on Jan 16th, the likelihood that it'll happen again is pretty far-fetched. Last season, The Big Red put a scare into the Jayhawks in the first of two conference games, leading at the half and down just 4 points with 7 minutes to go. The second game saw Kansas take more control, and were never in any real danger of losing.
As Kansas starts to smell the post season, you can see their focus shift into high gear.
Husker Home Cookin'
Or, consider this possibility. Nebraska does what's it's done pretty well this season, and defends the home court.
In 2010-11, the Cornhuskers have not lost a game at the Devaney Center. USC, Creighton, TCU, Iowa State, Colorado, and the #13 ranked Aggies all headed from the Devaney Center locker rooms onto the team bus with a fresh loss under their belts. The home crowd has been behind the team more than ever in 2011, and the Kansas matchup looks to be the first sell-out of the season. Expect the crowd to be raucous and loud, shaking the normally cool-headed Jayhawks from their gameplan.
Statistically, the Huskers are in a prime position to pull off what would be one of the biggest and most timely wins in Nebraska history...for two reasons.
1. Nebraska has been perfect in home games immediately following a loss on the road. NU came home after being defeated by Kansas and Texas Tech, with wins over Colorado and Texas A&M. If this trend holds true, Nebraska is due today for another "W".
2. Nebraska leads the Big 12 in scoring defense, and 4th overall in 3-point percentage allowed. It's safe to say that if Nebraska hadn't turned the ball over so much against Tech and KSU, those games would have likely gone our way.
Nebraska get's physical, especially at home, and probably won't make the same turnover mistakes as Wednesday night. Given the current home streak, Kansas will need to be on the top of their game to get out of Lincoln with a win.
It's anybody's game. I'd go with my gut feeling, which is that Kansas is gonna kill us. But my gut was way off last time out, so I'm ignoring it today. Plus, it's college sports...without a dose of Ritalin. Should we flip a coin to see who shows up today?
Tipoff: 3:01 pm
Television: Big 12 Network (KLKN TV in Lincoln; KXVO in Omaha; KIIT In North Platte) - Also available on ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com (Check here for out of state listings)
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network | Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka, Color: Matt Davison
Internet Stats/ Free Radio: www.Huskers.com
GO BIG RED!