There’s only one game in the Big Ten today, 2/18, and boy is it a barn-burner!
Game of the Day:
- Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Maryland by 3
Nebraska (7-18, 1-13) and Maryland (11-14, 3-11) have had disappointing seasons, with head coaching troubles being a large reason why. Fred Hoiberg has failed to deliver in his third season with the Huskers, and Maryland has been operating under Danny Manning’s direction since former coach Mark Turgeon parted ways with the program after a mediocre start to the season. It’s highly likely that both teams will have new leaders by the start of next season, particularly if things don’t turn around.
In this sense, today’s matchup is big for Danny Manning and the Terps. If Manning wants any hope of being promoted to permanent head coach of Maryland, he needs to finish the season strong.
Despite giving Purdue a good fight at Mackey Arena on Sunday, Maryland has lost its last five games, three of them coming by double-digit margins. The one redeeming note is that four of these five losses came to teams in the top half of the Big Ten standings (Indiana is close to top-half at 9th). And the Terps still have Nebraska, Penn State, and Minnesota on their schedule. So, the opportunity for more wins is there.
On the Nebraska front, things are looking bleak, to say the least. While they were able to win its first Big Ten game recently against Minnesota, they have had an abysmal season in what was supposed to be Fred Hoiberg’s year to prove his worth. The past two seasons have brought a total of seven wins each for Hoiberg’s squad, and that’s exactly where this year’s team stands at 7-18.
This year’s Husker team struggles at pretty much everything. They rank dead last in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency, second-to-last in rebounding margin (-8.5 per game) and defensive efficiency, and they shoot a measly 30.7% from three-point range.
To me, Hoiberg’s failure is somewhat confusing; I always considered him to be a good coach at Iowa State, and he’s proven to be able to recruit at Nebraska—his 2021 recruiting class was ranked in the top-15 nationally by ESPN. But alas, here we are in year three with no improvement shown. We’ll see if the administration decides to keep him another year, but to me, the writing is on the wall.
So, similar to Manning, Hoiberg is coaching for his job right now. If Nebraska hopes to win they’ll need to take advantage of Maryland’s turnover problems—they rank 9th in the Big Ten in TO%, per KenPom—and perform better on the boards, since Maryland struggles on this front as well. All of the Huskers' 7 wins have come at home, and Maryland is only 2-5 on the road, so if Nebraska fans are looking for some hopeful news, I would tell them that!
- Prediction: Maryland 74 - Nebraska 69