Western Illinois at Nebraska Basketball Preview

Jonathan Daniel

Nebraska played lights out in the first game in their new arena, now what will they do for the encore?

Western Illinois (0-1, 0-0) at Nebraska (0-0, 0-0)
8:00 PM EST
TV: None
Line: Nebraska -15
Over/Under: n/a
Series Record: Nebraska 4-0
Last Meeting
: Nebraska 72-52 (2001)
Blog Representation: Corn Nation

Nebraska looked electrifying in their brand new arena in the season opener against Florida Gulf Coast. Simply put, Dunk City was cancelled. Nebraska not only looked good on the court, but the sell out crowd was about as excited as you could possibly get and for the first time in who knows how long it looked like people were excited for Nebraska hoops. Playing in Lincoln suddenly looks like a considerably bigger challenge as the program looks and feels rejuvenated thanks to a recent interest in revitalizing the basketball program.

Of course it could still be a year or two away for the Cornhuskers. Tim Miles is a good coach and he has more talent then the last few seasons, but it's raw and inexperienced and still is lacking compared to most of the Big Ten. You can build a contender from the bottom up but it doesn't happen over night, especially if you're part of the nation's best conference where absolutely nothing is guaranteed.

After dissecting Florida Gulf Coast, the Cornhuskers will focus on Western Illinois. The Leathernecks lost their season opener against Idaho, falling 63-67. The team was led by Garret Covington's 22 points while Tate Stensgaard and Remy Roberts-Burnett also reached double digits. Western Illinois ran a short rotation, only playing eight players in the opener. Off the bench Western Illinois saw little production, with the backups adding more fouls (10) than points (9). With no one on the roster taller than 6'8 the Leathernecks will have a serious disadvantage in size and ability to rebound the ball, putting pressure on their ability to shoot from outside. Western Illinois struggled from the field versus Idaho and if they do the same thing today it'll be a long day for the team.

The Cornhuskers were led in the opener by Shavon Shields, adding 28 points and 6 rebounds. His performance was enough to earn player of the week honors from the conference. The team was capable of scoring inside, outside, from the free throw line and saw production from all over the court. This Nebraska team may be light in the experience department but the talent is there and it's looking like Miles is starting to build a program capable of contending. It might be a little bit before they finally turn the corner but it's progress and a definite improvement.

Anyways, Nebraska comes into tonight's game feeling like a million bucks and will play an undersized, thin and less talented Western Illinois squad. Mix that with what should be another full house (Nebraska sold out all of their home games so as long as season ticket holders show up, which I'd imagine they will, attendance will be at capacity) and you'll have a festive environment that Nebraska should be able to build on. The program is starting to turn the corner and games like this should be near guaranteed wins for the Cornhuskers.

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