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12/7 Big Ten Preview: Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Preview Tuesday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Nebraska Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has just one game on the docket tonight, but it’s a league matchup as the Wolverines head to Lincoln to open Big Ten action for UM, taking on the Cornhuskers.

Let’s take a look at the night’s schedule.

Game of the Day:

-Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 7:01PM EST (ESPN2)
  • ESPN Spread: Michigan -7.5

The Wolverines begin defense of the team’s 2020-21 Big Ten title* tonight with a trip to Pinnacle Bank Arena to take on the Huskers in Lincoln. It will mark the fifth of nine games away from Ann Arbor to start the season for Michigan, while Nebraska returns home from a two-game road stand. The Huskers have otherwise played seven of the team’s nine games so far at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Michigan comes into the game having lost three of the last six, moving the Wolverines to 5-3 on the season (0-0 Big Ten). One of those losses was at home (Seton Hall), one on a neutral court (Arizona), and one in a true road game (North Carolina). Nebraska, meanwhile, will be looking to snap a two game losing streak that dropped the Huskers to 5-4 (0-1) on the season. Home confine won’t mean too much for UNL at 5-2 at PBA, losing home games to Creighton and Western Illinois.

Michigan will certainly look to use sophomore center Hunter Dickinson as the team’s workhorse for the night on the offensive end. Dickinson leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.5 points on 60 percent shooting, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. Fifth-year senior point guard Eli Brooks will also need to stay on the floor to run the point of attack for Michigan, along with his 14.4 points and 2.9 assists per game, while shooting over 40 percent from three-point range. Freshman Moussa Diabate had worked his way into the starting lineup the past two games, but left the matchup against SDSU this past Saturday early with an apparent injury and is doubtful for the game.

Nebraska, meanwhile, will hope to find its shot collectively as a team after an abysmal performance at Indiana Saturday afternoon. A nice rest after a four-overtime matchup against NC State in Raleigh and a road game in Bloomington should help when combined with home rims. UNL went 5-of-22 from beyond the arc at IU, including at one point going just 1-of-16.

Michigan’s key to victory will be to rely on Hutchinson to dominate down low against a Husker front court lacking depth and size to compete with the star big man. Then on defense it will be to force Nebraska to rely on outside shooting as the Huskers have not proven against better teams so far this season they have the consistency to win games that way.

As for Nebraska, it would likely help to put double-teams on Hutchinson to slow him down and force it back outside while keeping a tough defender on Brooks as well. If UNL can make Michigan rely more on other players than the two stars then Nebraska should be able to keep the game competitive even with another poor shooting night on offense. Having just held IU to a season-low 40.4 percent shooting and 68 points is a good start for proving to themselves they can do it.

This series, both all-time and in Big Ten action, is simply too lopsided to endure at its current pace. Just playing the odds, Nebraska is due for an upset and with another strong defensive performance like against the Hooisers, UNL should actually pull it off.

  • Pick: Nebraska

The Rest:

That’s it for tonight’s action.