Nebraska Cornhuskers (18-12, 9-9) vs. Northern Iowa Panthers (22-10, 15-3)
Thursday, March 17, 7 p.m. - Pinnacle Bank Arena (Lincoln, Neb.)
Radio: Husker Sports Network (Matt Coatney, Jeff Griesch)
B107.3 FM, Lincoln; ESPN 590 AM (Omaha); KRVN 880 AM (Lexington)
Free Live Audio Streaming: Huskers.com
Premium Video: BTN Plus (Subscription Required)
Nebraska's Expected Starters
32 - Jessica Shepard - 6-4 - Fr. - F - 19.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg
22 - Allie Havers - 6-5 - Jr. - C - 8.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg
5 - Natalie Romeo - 5-7 - So. - G - 15.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg
11 - Esther Ramacieri - 5-8 - Jr. - G - 0.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg
34 - Jasmine Cincore - 5-10 - So. - G - 4.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Only six Huskers were able to practice full court this past week (Romeo, Ramacieri, Cincore, Wood, Washington, and Havers). Shepard is struggling through a stress reaction in her foot and even if she does start, I expect she will be limited. She was battling this same injury in the Big Ten tournament versus Rutgers. Jess finished with four points on 1 of 9 shooting in that loss.
The most-played reserves at post, Blackburn and Kalenta, were both limited in practice with injuries. Nebraska's frontcourt is a triage unit right now, which is obviously not a good situation for postseason play. Little-used redshirt freshman Darrien Washington maybe called upon to play a bigger role tonight after only logging 39 minutes all season.
The four or five guards that will suit up are slightly (ever so slightly) healthier but suffer from a lack of numbers. After the starting three, only Emily Wood will be available on the bench. Maddie Simon was not officially ruled out in the UNL press release, but she suffered a sprained ankle and one Husker beat writer tweeted that she was unavailable for tonight. Senior guards Rachel Theriot and Kyndal Clark will not play after their season-ending injuries (ankle and knee respectively).
No word yet on whether any of the student managers will suit up or if Coach Yori will try to sneak Benny Parker into the lineup.
University of Northern Iowa Expected Starters
5 - Amber Sorenson - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 12.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg
42 - Jen Keitel - 6-3 - Sr. - F - 10.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg
2 - Madison Weekly - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 17.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg
13 - Sharnae Lamar - 5-2 - Sr. - G - 5.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
14 - Stephanie Davison - 5-10 - Sr. - G - 7.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Four seniors and a junior make up the starters for the Panthers. They won the Missouri Valley Conference this season but lost in their conference tournament championship game and missed their ticket to the NCAA tourney. This will be a fired up and veteran team that is more than likely well aware of the Husker injury woes.
If I sound a little more pessimistic than I did in my WNIT preview, well, I am. I still think (hope) Nebraska can win this game, but the injuries have piled up to a point that makes a long tournament run seem unlikely. It will take gutty performances from injured players. It will also take gutty performances from healthy players that will likely be asked to play most or all of the 40 minutes.
Win or lose, we will probably learn a lot about the toughness and fight of the 2016-17 team.
Go Big Red!
March Madness Thursday March 17: Round of 64 Evening Games
|6:50 p.m.||TNT||Providence||South||(3) Miami-Florida Hurricanes vs. (14) Buffalo Bulls||Eagle/ Webber/Elmore//Washburn|
|7:10 p.m.||CBS||Des Moines||East||(5) Indiana Hoosiers vs.(12) Chattanooga Mocs||Nantz/Hill/Raftery//Wolfson|
|7:20 p.m.||TBS||Raleigh||East||(1) North Carolina Tar Heels vs. (16) Florida Gulf Coast/Fairleigh Dickinson||Harlan/Miller/Bonner//Johnson|
|7:27 p.m.||truTV||Denver||Midwest||(3) Utah Utes vs. (14) Fresno State Bulldogs||Catalon/ Lappas// Erdahl|
|After conc. III||TNT||Providence||South||(6) Arizona Wildcats vs. (11) Vanderbilt/Wichita State||Eagle/ Webber/Elmore//Washburn|
|After conc. III||CBS||Des Moines||East||(4) Kentucky Wildcats vs. (13) Stony Brook Seawolves||Nantz/Hill/Raftery//Wolfson|
|After conc. III||TBS||Raleigh||East||(8) USC Trojans vs. (9) Providence Friars||Harlan/Miller/Bonner//Johnson|
|After conc. III||truTV||Denver||Midwest||(6) Seton Hall Pirates vs. (11) Gonzaga Bulldogs||Catalon/ Lappas// Erdahl|