On Wednesday evening, Nebraska went on the road to open Big Ten play against the reigning Big Ten champion Hoosiers. Indiana figured to be a substantial favorite in the game and most were picking the Hoosiers to cover the spread pretty easily.
However, Indiana stumbled out of the gate and Nebraska was able to take advantage. Indiana battled back and took a 36-33 lead into halftime, but the Huskers once again roared out of the gate during the second half. Nebraska ended up pulling off the first upset of Big Ten play by a 87-83 final margin.
Let's see what we learned from the game.
What We Learned
1. Don’t Try To Dance On Nebraska’s Grave Just Yet.
Following Nebraska’s announcement earlier this week that guard Anton Gill would miss the remainder of the season with injury, many (including myself) largely wrote off the Huskers for the remainder of the season. It seemed like Gill’s injury would be the straw that broke the camel’s back and cause Nebraska to spiral out of control.
Obviously, Nebraska had other thoughts.
While we can’t be sure whether Nebraska can replicate the play it showed on Wednesday night going forward, this win should at least put the brakes on any discussion that the season is over for the Cornhuskers. And with games against Iowa, Maryland, and Michigan upcoming in the next two weeks, perhaps this could be the start of a special run for fans in Lincoln.
2. This Is A Bad Loss For Indiana, But Don’t Overreact.
After a major upset loss, there are usually two schools of thought. First, the group that overreacts and projects the loss as the end of a program and second, the group that tries to contextualize the loss too much. Depending on who you listen to, this is either the worst loss ever or nothing to worry about.
So, let’s be clear.
This is a bad loss for Indiana. But not something that ends the season.
If the Hoosiers want to win the Big Ten, the team needed to come away with a win on Wednesday night. Keeping pace with Purdue and Wisconsin was already going to be difficult and to give away a game against a 6-6 team is not a great way to get that campaign started. Indiana will now have an uphill battle for the rest of the season.
However, there are more than enough opportunities for Indiana to grow and improve from this loss in the games ahead. Even in the next two weeks, Indiana gets matchups with Louisville, Wisconsin, and Maryland. Beating any of the three would provide a nice resume boost for the Hoosiers and make many forget this mistake.
It’s going to take some time for fans to forget about this loss (and the loss to Fort Wayne earlier this season), but if Indiana can get back on track and take care of business, all of its goals are still on the table.
3. Indiana Loses Focus Again.
There’s no debating that Indiana has won a plethora of games with Tom Crean at the helm, but one trend that continues for the Hoosiers is the inability to show consistency against underdogs. Indiana has certainly beaten most of the bad teams it’s played with Crean, but these inexplicable losses (especially at home) just keep happening.
Over the last four seasons, Indiana has suffered six losses to teams ranked outside the top 100 on KenPom and that doesn’t even include the loss to Fort Wayne (No. 98) this season, the frustrating loss to Michigan (No. 50) in last year’s Big Ten Tournament, or the home loss to a mediocre Penn State team during the 2013-’14 season.
Every team loses some games it shouldn’t, but blowing easy wins seems to be a recurring nightmare for Hoosier fans as of late. After all, how does Indiana go 74-40 overall during the last four seasons and still suffer losses to Eastern Washington (home), Fort Wayne, Nebraska (twice), Northwestern (twice), Penn State (twice), UNLV, and Wake Forest during that same span?
Most may have projected an easy win for Indiana on Wednesday night, but the unexpected occurred, as it often does in college basketball. Nebraska can now move forward with hopes of pulling off another upset on the road against Maryland and Indiana will have to regroup for a Saturday showdown with Louisville.