Next up on EagleAction's season previews: The Nebraska Cornhuskers
After not participating in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last season, the Eagles will head to Nebraska this year to take on the Huskers in Lincoln. An up and down team last season, Nebraska has brought in a strong recruiting class to bolster their team, but will it be enough to take down the Eagles? Find out below in the fourth edition of our non-conference season previews. (Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, Part 3 HERE)
Nebraska-Nov. 29 (Wednesday)-Pinnacle Bank Arena-ACC/ Big Ten Challenge
16-17 Record: 12-19 (6-12 in Big Ten)
Postseason: Lost in 1st Round of Big Ten Tournament
Biggest Win: Defeated #16 Indiana (18-16) 87-83 Dec. 28
Worst Loss: Lost to Gardner-Webb 70-62 (19-14) Dec. 18
Power Five Record: 0-4 Outside of Big Ten (Clemson, Virginia Tech, Kansas, UCLA)
Top Returning Scorer: Glynn Watson Jr., Jr., PG, 13.0 ppg
Biggest Departure: Tai Webster, G, 17.0 ppg (Graduated)
New Arrival: Isaac Copeland, 6-9 F, 11.0 ppg, Transferred from Georgetown
After losing their last two ACC/Big Ten challenge games to Clemson and Miami, the Cornhuskers will host Boston College in a game they will most likely be favored. However, these two teams are evenly matched, so don’t think BC has no chance in this one.
Last season, after going 6-6 in a tough non-conference schedule that included games against UCLA, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Creighton, and Kansas, the Cornhuskers got off to a hot start in Big Ten play, jumping out to 3-0 with wins over #16 Indiana, Maryland, and Iowa. Unfortunately for Coach Tim Miles, the Huskers would lose five straight, and eventually go on to lose nine of their next twelve, finishing 6-12 in conference play.
Much like Boston College, Nebraska’s quality of play was all over the place last season. With wins over two ranked opponents, Indiana and Purdue, the Huskers clearly had the talent to compete with the best in the Big Ten, but they couldn’t put it together every night, resulting in sloppy losses to Rutgers, Ohio State, and Penn State.
The most glaring issue with the Huskers was their inconsistency on the offensive end. In their games against UCLA, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Kansas, the Huskers shot a combined 37% from the field--including a sad 17-57 night against the Hokies. In Big Ten play, the Huskers shot 40% or worse on nine occasions, ultimately closing their season shooting 26-76 against Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
To make matters worse, Nebraska’s best scorer, Tai Webster, has graduated, and Coach Miles will be looking to Glynn Watson Jr. and Evan Taylor to pick up the slack. Watson, who averaged 13 ppg last year, is a gifted scorer and a quick point guard, but is probably more like 5-10 rather than his listed height of 6-0.
Luckily, Nebraska had a solid recruiting class--featuring major recruits in Thomas Allen and Nana Akenten. Raleigh native Thomas Allen, a 4 star guard, committed to Nebraska over Kansas, NC State, Xavier, and Texas A&M. Allen had originally signed a letter of intent to play at NC State, but reopened his recruiting after Coach Gottfried was dismissed. Playing at Brewster Academy (NH) last season, a school that has produced NBA players Donovan Mitchell, TJ Warren, Jeff Adrien, Will Barton, and Thomas Robinson, Allen figures to be one of the best scorers in the 2017 recruiting class.
Nana Akenten, rated 3 stars by 247Sports, is a 6-6 wing who chose Nebraska over Big Ten schools Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. In Allen and Akenten, the Huskers will be adding two elite athletes on the wing, making them one of the more athletic and versatile teams in the nation. In addition, the Huskers are also bringing Iceland- native Thorir “Thor” Thorbjarnarson. A 6-5 wing, Coach Miles has described Thor as the next Manu Ginobili, so take what you will from that.
In addition to the four freshmen, Nebraska got a strong transfer in Isaac Copeland, another Brewster Academy alum. The 24th ranked recruit in the 2014 class, the 6-10 Copeland averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in his sophomore year at Georgetown, and will be immediately eligible to play at Nebraska.
With all these additions, Nebraska will have the talent, athleticism, and size (six players over 6-8) to compete at a high-level in the Big Ten. They’ll be a lot deeper than BC, but the Eagles will likely have the best two players in the game in Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson. If the Eagles’ stars can step up on the road, BC could win this game. Nebraska has all the pieces to win, but if they can’t put it all together, I would give the slight nod to BC. However, if Allen and Watson Jr. can get off to a strong start, and the physicality and athleticism of the Huskers proves too much for Ky and Jerome, it will be a long day.