North Texas Preview:
Mascot: Mean Green (The mascot is an eagle)
Coach: Grant McCastland (1st year)
2016-17 Record: 8-22 (2-16 C-USA)
2017-18 Record: 1-0
North Texas had a pretty rough go of it last year. The team went 8 and 22 with no real notable teams in the wins column and dead last in Conference USA. It was enough for the athletic department to let go of 5th year head coach Tony Benford at the end of the season. Tony was 62-95 during his tenure with no winning seasons during those five years. It was a bad year and I assume the Mean Green look to forget it as soon as they can.
Grant McCasland was hired as the new head coach after the dismissal of Benford and should bring some life to this squad. McCasland was 20-12 as head coach of Arkansas State before he left to coach North Texas and there is hope that he will turn around this team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2011-12.
This season brings in a new coach with a very young team. Though there is some experience as three of the five starters from last year return.
The Mean Green started their season last Friday against Division III Eureka College. The 112-65 win was a nice start to the year. They shot 58% from the field with multiple players in double digits. Even if it was against a Division III squad, a win is a win.
A.J. Lawson is the returning leading scorer from last season with 11.4 ppg. Even though he only had 7 points against Eureka he should still be a threat when open.
One player Roosevelt Smart who had 23 points, 4 assists, and 2 rebounds. The 6’3” guard is quick and his shot is fairly accurate shooting 80% from the field against Eureka. Three of which were 3 pointers.
Next to Smart is Ryan Woolridge. The 6’3” sophomore had 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 steals on Friday. Expect some tough defense tonight as he will make our guards pay if they’re not careful.
Again this is a young squad so expect some hiccups when they try to match up against the Huskers early on. They have also only played a Division III school so the stats are going to be a little inflated coming into this game. I would expect those to shrink down as the season goes on.
With that said, North Texas just doesn’t match up well against the Huskers. They’re smaller and less experienced than the Big Red. I would expect for Nebraska to continue to struggle where they always have, namely scoring droughts. However, I don’t see that being a major problem and the Huskers should have a fairly decent lead by the time the final buzzer rings.