The Nebraska Cornhuskers visit Ann Arbor tomorrow night to take on the Michigan Wolverines. The ugly colors of maize and blue will be an ever present stain on the eyes for this one as the game will be in Ann Arbor at the Crisler Center.
UNL enters the matchup after a close loss at home to Rutgers on Saturday. Michigan, meanwhile, enters the game having just snapped a three-game win streak by getting blown out at in-state rival Michigan State on Saturday as well. The win streak prior to the loss included an 80-62 road victory at Indiana.
Michigan is led by third-year head coach Juwan Howard, who took over the Michigan program in May of 2019. After signing a large contract extension in Nov. 2021, Howard has seen a team that were favorites to “repeat” as Big Ten Conference Champions* flounder some since and now sit in bubble territory. Some even project the Wolverines will miss out on the NIT this season if current on court production remains unimproved.
Sophomore center Hunter Dickinson anchors the Wolverine attack on offense, averaging 17.0 points per game on 59 percent shooting, while grabbing 8.2 rebounds per game. Dickinson was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last year and earned second-team All-American honors.
Fifth-year senior guard Eli Brooks is chipping in 11.3 points and 2.9 assists per game, while shooting 38 percent from three-point range. Michigan signed a pair of five-star freshmen in Caleb Houstan (10.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Moussa Diabate (9.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) for the 2021 class, but the star-studded cast has failed to carry the recruiting rankings onto the hardwood on a consistent basis. Coastal Carolina transfer DeVante Jones (8.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.9 apg) rounds out the starting lineup.
Last time out, Alonzo Verge Jr. had a season-high 31 points when Nebraska hosted Michigan in Lincoln on Dec. 7. However, Michigan took control early in the game and dominated all facets as the squad marched to a 102-67 victory over Nebraska.
Nebraska may catch a Wolverine squad coming out flat in this one. The Huskers are sandwiched in-between a big rivalry game that ended with a blowout loss, and a road trip Saturday to take on Purdue. Given that, there’s a chance the Wolverines may overlook the Huskers and open play flat. If Nebraska can capitalize on that to take an early lead or keep the game close, then UM has struggled in the second half in many games this season.
While the Wolverines had to storm back from trailing Northwestern by double-digits, the team has more often performed like it did at MSU in the second half. That might just be the opening this Husker squad needs to snap the losing streak and have a chance. A strong defensive effort on the perimeter to force Michigan to rely solely on Dickinson combined with a consistent scoring effort on offense would be just enough to get the win on the road in this one. Whether the Huskers can capitalize on it remains to be seen.
*Michigan refused to play a full 20-game conference schedule during the 2020-21 season, citing a voluntary shutdown due to COVID-19 as rendering them unable to return to play despite no players actually having been diagnosed with COVID-19, and thus claimed the title over Illinois who had more wins, but a lower winning percentage.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 8:07 p.m. CST/9:07 p.m. EST
Where: Crisler Center (12,707) - Commie Town, Michigan*
TV: Big Ten Network
Announcers: Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Stephanie White (analyst)
Radio: Huskers Radio Network
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Analyst: Jake Muhleisen
Broadcast Stations: KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KKCD (105.9 FM) in Omaha, KHYY (106.9 FM) in Scottsbluff, and KAMI (1580 AM) in Lexington
Also available on Huskers.com and the Huskers app.
Line: TallySight pegs Michigan at -14.5.
*The author’s nickname for the [People’s Republic of] Ann Arbor in no way reflects the viewpoints of Corn Nation, SB Nation, or Vox Media and is merely the reflections of a native born Michigander’s hatred of that stuck up, pretentious, awful town in southeast Michigan.
2021-22 Record: 10-8 (4-4 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Juwan Howard
Record at Michigan: 52-25 (3rd year)
Career Record: Same
2021-22 Record: 6-15 (0-10 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Fred Hoiberg
Record at Nebraska: 20-60 (3rd year)
Career Record: 135-115 (8th year)