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Nebraska Men’s Basketball: The Second Northwestern Preview

Feels like we just did this right?

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Day: Wednesday February 7th, 2024

Time: 8:00 PM CST

Location: Welsh Ryan Arena (Evanston, Illinois)

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: Wednesday’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: 15-7 (6-5 B1G)

Head Coach: Chris Collins (11th Season)

Preview:

Nebraska basketball finds Northwestern after what was a very tough week last week, but somewhat in a good way. After getting drubbed in the first half at home against then #6 Wisconsin, somehow Nebraska found a way to an overtime win. Then, a measly three days later, Nebraska found itself clawing its way back into a game against #14 Illinois, only to fall three points short, in overtime. If the extra 10 minutes of high-stress basketball has you worried the Huskers could come out flat, good news, Northwestern’s last 2 games have also been overtime affairs.

Northwestern will be looking to escape a three-game conference skid, so Nebraska has to come out prepared from the jump. Northwestern lost to both Purdue and Minnesota on the road in overtime, so coming home is probably what Northwestern needs to get back on track. The Wildcats are tough at home, boasting an 11-1 record, with the only loss being an early non-con game against Chicago State. This Wildcat team is much better than the one that somehow lost that one.

The Wildcats come into this game scoring at a higher clip than when we last saw them, as they now average 75.0 points per game and shooting a slightly improved 47.5% from the floor. Northwestern is solid from both the three-point and free throw lines, shooting 39.3% (which is up from last matchup) and 72.3% (which is down) respectively. Northwestern averages 30.1 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.

As per usual, Northwestern is led by their star Senior Boo Buie. Buie is averaging 18.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. He will be the one guy who cannot get going if Nebraska is to win this game. Buie finished the game at Nebraska with 9 points off of 2-15 shooting, so the Huskers will have their hands full as he usually doesn’t play two bad games in a row. 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 6.5 per contest.

In the contest at Pinnacle Bank Arena on January 20th, Brooks Barnhizer had a season high 24 points and led the team with 6 rebounds. Buie had a quiet afternoon by his standards, going 2-15 from the floor for 9 points, 4 of which came from the free throw line. Ryan Langborg was the three-point threat, going 4-10 from deep. Nebraska committed 18 turnovers (a season high at home) and was forced to eek this one out by 6 points.

Nebraska played much better at Illinois, a good outing on the road had been sorely lacking in conference play. I believe that if they can channel that, Nebraska can find a couple of road wins here at the end of the regular season, one of which could be Wednesday night in Evanston. Play with the heart like at Pinnacle, and shoot the ball like they did against Illinois, and this could be a really good recipe going forward. This is another quad 1 opportunity, the last one currently remaining on the schedule, so a Nebraska win would go a long way to continuing a solid resumé.