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Nebraska Men’s Basketball: The Northwestern Preview

The Huskers come back home

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Day: Saturday January 20th, 2024

Time: 1:15 PM CST

Location: Pinnacle Bank Arena (Lincoln, Nebraska)

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: Saturday’s game will be carried on the Huskers Radio Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call, including KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KXSP (590 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington and will also be available on Huskers.com and the Huskers app.

Current Record: 13-4 (4-2 B1G)

Head Coach: Chris Collins (11th Season)

Preview:

Nebraska basketball comes back home in a desperate way. After beating #1 Purdue by 16 points last Tuesday, Nebraska has gone winless since. After losing by 18 at Iowa, Nebraska blew multiple double digit leads in Piscataway, New Jersey, falling to Rutgers by 5 in overtime. Luckily for the Huskers, they are a far better beast at home, and protecting the vault will be of the highest order from here on out. The severity of Juwan Gary’s injury is yet to be determined, but his absence will be felt no matter how much time he misses.

Northwestern will not be an easy out for Nebraska however, as the Wildcats enter the contest with a 13-4 record, and 4-2 in conference play. Oh, and one of their 4 wins, happens to be the same Purdue team Nebraska beat last week. Chris Collins has another decent team put together, so the Huskers will need to be near their best to beat the other “NU”.

The Wildcats come into this game scoring 72.9 points per game and shooting a decent 46.8% from the floor. Northwestern is efficient from both the three-point and free-throw lines, shooting 36.6% and 73.1% respectively. Northwestern averages 30.4 rebounds per game, but does have a negative average margin, so Nebraska could put some of their rebounding woes away with a strong effort on the glass.

Northwestern is led by their 20th year Senior (only slightly kidding) Boo Buie. Buie is averaging 18.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He will be the one guy who cannot get going if Nebraska is to win this game. Brooks Barnhizer, Ty Berry and Ryan Langborg all average double digits in scoring as well, leading a very balanced Wildcat offense. Barnhizer leads the team in rebounds averaging 6.7 per contest.

The biggest thing that makes this Northwestern team tough is the overall experience, as Buie (Graduate Senior), Berry (Senior), Langborg (Graduate Senior), Matthew Nicholson (Senior) and Barnhizer (Junior) are all upper classmen. They have had multiple years of playing in the Big Ten, and that will help prepare them for the stretch run heading into the second half of conference play. Nicholson is also a 7-footer, which will cause some problems on the boards with Juwan Gary being hurt for Nebraska.

This is a crucial game for Nebraska to win. First things first, protect the vault. Whatever they can get on the road from here on out is gravy. If Nebraska wants to prove it’s a NCAA Tournament caliber team, it needs to finish .500 or better in conference play. Winning at home will certainly accomplish that, but it would be far easier to win a couple on the road too. The key is to get off to a good start, like both the Purdue and Rutgers game, but finishing the game like it did against Purdue is something Nebraska needs to be more consistent. Nebraska has to get this one, or things might be coming off the tracks. Plenty of season left, but a win keeps the .500 pace in conference, which should be good enough to earn a NCAA bid.