When: 6:30 ET Monday, January 14th
Where: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
How to watch: FS1 (Joe Davis and Bill Rafferty)
The Indiana Hoosiers (12-4, 3-2) will welcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-4, 2-3) to Bloomington on Monday night in an important game for each team’s tournament hopes.
With Indiana coming off two consecutive losses, the Hoosiers will have an opportunity to bounce back at home against a talented Nebraska squad. The starting five for Nebraska is one of the most talented units in the conference, though a lack of depth has proven to be an issue for the team at times.
The Cornhuskers are led by Senior wing James Palmer Jr., who has stepped into a leadership role for the team. Palmer comes into the game leading his team in scoring at 19.5 points per game as well as dishing out 3.1 assists per game. The key issue for Palmer thus far has been a lack of efficiency; Palmer has shot just 39.9% from the floor, as well as 34.3% from behind the arc. In Big Ten play, Palmer has had even more significant struggles in that area, dropping to just 31.9% from the field overall.
Joining Palmer in the backcourt is fellow Senior Glyn Watson Jr. who averages 13.4 points per game along with leading his team in assists at 4.1 per game. Watson has made a huge jump as a shooter this season as well, improving from just 29.1% from behind the arc last season up to 41.7% this season. Rounding out the backcourt is Sophomore guard Thomas Allen, who averages 8.6 points and 2.2 assists per game on the season. Allen is an excellent shooter, shooting 38.8% from behind the arc on the season, and racking up 1.08 points per possession on spot-up shots on the season, placing him in the 76th percentile nationally.
Though not possessing the dominant size of Maryland’s frontcourt, Nebraska has a frontcourt duo to respect. Isaac Copeland Jr is having the best season of his career, averaging 14.3 points per game as well as grabbing 5.3 rebounds per game. Copeland is also a respectable shooter, knocking down 35.8% of his attempts from behind the arc. Joining Copeland in the frontcourt is 6’8 230-pound forward Isaiah Roby, who leads the team in rebounding at 6.6 per game along with adding 11.4 points per game. Though lacking the size of a traditional center, Roby is a good athlete whose quickness can cause issues for bigger defenders.
Offensively, Nebraska will pose some serious problems for a Hoosier defense that is coming off perhaps one of its worst performances of the season. The Cornhuskers rank 9th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KENPOM and are ranked 3rd in the Big Ten in turnovers per game, averaging just 10.2 a night. Nebraska, however, has encountered substantial depth concerns so far this season and are overly reliant on their starting five. In their most recent game against Penn State, their three bench players accounted for just 13 total minutes.
Defensively, Nebraska’s defense leaves something to be desired. They rank 53rd in KENPOM’S adjusted defensive efficiency and rank 13th in the Big Ten in points per possession allowed. However, they are very effective at forcing turnovers, causing opponents to turn the ball over on 21.3% of their possessions. Indiana has been much better of late in holding onto the basketball, and they can’t let an otherwise poor Nebraska defense off the hook with careless turnovers.
Indiana will need to take care of business against a good Nebraska team at home, as things don’t get much easier for the Hoosiers from here. Indiana will be on the road for four of their next five contests, with their lone home game coming against the #2 ranked Michigan Wolverines.