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Game Preview: Nebraska vs. Northern Kentucky

The Return of Nebraska Basketball!

Andy Lyons

Opponent: Northern Kentucky University
Date / Time: Sunday, November 16th - 2 PM Eastern
Location: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska
TV: BTN Plus

Terran Petteway and Nebrasketball surprised everyone last season, finishing 4th in the B1G regular season and earning an NCAA tournament bid. Now the question is whether or not Tim Miles and his team can maintain that form and take the next step. The Huskers will be hoping to compete for a B1G title this season and their ultimate goal will be to win the school's first NCAA tournament game ever.

Luckily for Nebraska, they return their three highest players in points, rebounds and assists from last year's team. Juniors Petteway, Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford were the core of last year's team and should start this game and throughout the season. New Zealander Tai Webster will return as point guard after leading the team in assists as a freshman. Webster gained valuable experience this offseason as a member of his country's national team during the FIBA World Cup, averaging 5.3 points in 21.7 minutes per game.

Getting to know The Norse

Northern Kentucky played at Wisconsin on Firday and prior to the game Drew Hamm talked about the Norse in his preview. As to be expected, the game did not go well at all for NKU as the Badgers doubled up on the Norse 62-31. Despite the lose i do think the Norse should be commended for scheduling trips to two B1G title contenders to start the season.

In my humble opinion, NKU, who is in the middle of a transition to Division 1, have one of the greatest nicknames in college basketball. Norse is a better option than Vikings because it includes both the fierce warriors of the middle ages and their families and descendants, similar D1 team names include the Vandals, Irish, Aztecs, and Gaels. My only issue is that they use horned helmets in their logo, which history says no one ever wore in battle, but I guess ND has a leprechaun stereotype as their logo so I can forgive Northern Kentucky for that indiscretion.

What to watch for

Nebraska is largely unchanged when it comes to personnel this season. Therefore, we can expect them to play a similar style this year. Incoming freshmen Jake Hammond and Tarin Smith will likely get one of their best opportunities for playing time tonight, so it'll be interesting to see how well they perform in their first college game. Redshirt freshman Nick Fuller should also see his first minutes in a regular season game against the Norse.

Transfer Moses Abraham played sparingly at Georgetown and was thought to be a bigger part of the rotation for the Huskers, but only saw 8 minutes in their exhibition win against SWMS. Abraham is a grad student and should bring a certain amount of leadership to his new team, but it remains to be seen what type of impact he will have on Nebraska's lineup in his final college season.

The biggest questions for Tim Miles' team tonight will be on the offensive end. Nebraksetball only averaged 66.8 ppg last year, but had one of the best defenses in the conference. The exhibition saw the Huskers score 83 points, but it is hard to know if that output will translate to the regular season. Wisconsin only manged 62 against the Norse, so we will see how that compares to the Huskers.

Prediction

Nebraska shouldn't have any issues coming away with a win. Petteway, Pitchford and Shields will score at least 10 each. Webster will impress and will have at least 5 assists.

Final: 78-55 Nebraska