Kyle and I will get back to the legal blogging in 2012. In his last post Kyle provided a recap and a look ahead and Creighton’s basketball season. This post will do the same for Nebraska’s basketball team and take a look at the upcoming bowl game against South Carolina.
With the new conference comes different bowl game destinations for Nebraska this year. The Big Ten has tie-ins with Florida Bowls and the Huskers will take the cream of that crop when they play South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl. NU hasn’t been to Florida for a bowl game since its win over Clemson in the 2008 Gator Bowl. Before that, it hadn’t been to the Sunshine State since the 1997 Orange Bowl which resulted in a National Title. While NU looks to trend towards Rose Bowls and BCS games the second tier bowls will shift towards Florida and away from Texas and California.
South Carolina will present a unique challenge to the Huskers. Their defensive line is tough, their quarterback is tough and they have the typical SEC team speed. But NU’s style of play might just play well against the Gamecocks. I look for a steady dose of Burkhead running between the tackles early and late in the game. In between, I think Martinez will throw some short passes and utilize Nebraska’s speed at the skill positions. I think Tim Beck will get more creative in utilizing Aaron Green, Braylan Heard, Ameer Abdulla, Jamal Tuner, Kenny Bell and Kyler Reed. In short, I think NU will surprise the Old Ball Coach with a diverse offense with a lot of weapons. If the Blackshirts play well I think NU will pull out the win 24-14.
The non-conference portion of Nebraska’s basketball season played like a Clint Eastwood movie. It saw the good, the bad and the ugly. The Good: Road wins at Southern Cal and at TCU. The Bad: Home losses to Oregon and Wake Forest. The Ugly: 51-50 home win over Florida Gulf Coast and 72-69 home win over Central Michigan. What will conference play have in store? Well, if last Tuesday’s conference opener against Wisconsin is any indication, it looks like more of the bad.
It is not as though NU doesn’t have big, physical, talented players that are needed in the rugged Big Ten. The problem is that most of those big bodies are either playing hurt or not playing at all. Second leading scorer and rebounder Jorge Brian Diaz (6′ 11″ 245) is currently out with chronic bad feet. Andre Almeida (6′ 11″ 310) has missed the whole season with a bad knee. Christopher Niemann (6′ 11″ 275) is limited to 10 minutes or less a game thanks to two ACL tears. Of the group, only Diaz looks likely to get healthy enough to make significant contributions in conference play. Forward Dylan Talley (fourth in scoring) has also been limited by a chronic leg injury and may miss more time.
Most of the experts pick NU to finish 9th in the 12 team conference. It’s hard to look at the schedule and envision anything better than that. Doc Sadler has a knack for getting more out of his teams than many think he can and pulling an upset or two. With a little luck NU will be able to knock off a couple of the top teams and at least get enough wins to land in a post season tournament. That is, if they have anyone left who can run up and down the floor.