Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-21, 2-15) vs Northwestern Wildcats (6-21, 1-16)
Sunday, Mar. 1, 2020 – 3:15 p.m. CT
Pinnacle Bank Arena
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Internet: Fox Sports App
1. Find the perimeter shooting
Nebraska is coming off the worst 3-point shooting performance of the Fred Hoiberg era last time out in the loss to Ohio State. Not only were the three made 3-pointers a season-low (previously five), the 16 attempts from behind the arc were one off the season low, and that’s only because of a 3/4-court heave from Jervay Green just before the final buzzer. Northwestern is one of the few teams that have struggled as much as NU this year, but the Wildcats are still formidable on defense, holding opponents to 42 percent shooting and allowing 69.8 points per game. The Huskers need to knock down some early threes not only to get some confidence back but also to space out Northwestern’s defense and create some one-on-one matchups.
2. Win the turnover battle
Another way to create a spark for a struggling offense today would be forcing turnovers on defense and turning them into points in transition. The problem is that Northwestern has been just as good as Nebraska in terms of turnover margin this season. In fact, the Huskers and Wildcats are tied at 12th nationally in offensive turnover percentage at 15.4. The difference, though, is that Northwestern doesn’t force many turnovers defensively, either. Whereas Nebraska leads the Big Ten with 13.9 opponent turnovers per game, Northwestern is dead last with 10.3. The Huskers boast two players tied for second in the league in steals per game in Cam Mack and Dachon Burke at 1.3 apiece. The Wildcats, on the other hand, don’t have a single player in the top 30. If NU can create points off turnovers, it could be an X-factor.
3. It’s ‘Don’t Lose Sunday’
Neither of the teams that take the Pinnacle Bank Arena court this afternoon have anything to play for, as Nebraska and Northwestern established themselves at the Big Ten’s cellar-dwellers long ago. However, when you look at the big picture, there is plenty of incentive to win this one, especially for the Huskers. For one, it’s Senior Day, a chance to reward two grad transfers in Haanif Cheatham and Matej Kavas, who were among the first to join what Hoiberg was building in Lincoln. Secondly, a loss would set a new program record for consecutive losses, topping the previous longest losing streak when NU lost its final six games of the 1931-32 season and the first seven of 1932-33. Third, and most importantly, it’s the last chance for Nebraska to give its loyal fan base something to cheer about in an otherwise dismal season. Husker fans continue to turn out in droves for a team that’s lost a school-record 21 games and 13 in a row. It might not seem like much, but these fans deserve to see a win for the first time in nearly two months, especially in a game where their team is favored for the first time since 2019.
Nebraska 71, Northwestern 69
Robin’s 2019-20 record: 18-10
vs. the spread: 12-16