The Nebraska Cornhuskers have been fighting extra hard during conference play, but other than a win over the Michigan State Spartans, the Huskers have failed to strengthen their NCAA tournament resume. The team is currently 12-11 and 4-6 in Big Ten play and are on a three game losing streak.
During this losing streak, the team has lost to the Michigan Wolverines, the Purdue Boilermakers, and the Maryland Terrapins. These three teams are obviously some of the better teams in the Big Ten and the Huskers fought especially hard in their two home games against the Wolverines and the Terps, but they could not capitalize.
Over these past three games, the Huskers have not only shot poorly from deep (20-65), but also displayed some real concerns upfront. The Huskers' frontcourt problems were extremely clear when the team played Purdue. Overall, A.J. Hammons had a field day against a very weak Nebraska frontcourt, ending with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks.
In the Huskers most recent game against the Terps, the team fought really hard to almost upset one of the best teams in the country. Diamond Stone was a huge factor in this game on both ends of the floor for the Terps, he posted 16 points 10 rebounds, and eight block (yes, eight blocks). This game against Maryland again exposed the need for more consistency out of the Huskers' frontcourt on both ends of the floor.
So now that the Huskers have basically no shot of making the NCAA tournament anymore; what should the team focus on for the remainder of the season?
The Huskers are returning every player next year except for Shavon Shields and Benny Parker. This year, the Huskers have seven freshmen and each player needs some time to develop for the future. At this point, the most important goal for the rest of the season has to simply see improvement.
If the frontcourt could actually start making some progress, especially on the offensive end, then the team will have a bright future. The Huskers should start trying to get some buckets in the paint to start off the game, so that they can spread the floor better down the stretch; this would really help the Huskers' offense.
Before the season started, not many people thought the Huskers would fight for an NCAA tournament spot. The Huskers have put themselves in the right position to win games, but in the end they struggle closing out games. Many players have tried to answer the call this season, but Nebraska is still stuck in neutral.
The good news is that the Huskers are young and that some of these young players will be much more mature going forward after this season. Coach Tim Miles has to make sure that the players on the team still buy in for the rest of the season and not give up after a rough stretch.
Their next game is against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, which will hopefully be a win that could get the Huskers back on the right track.