When: Monday 7pm
Where: Littlejohn Coliseum
Clemson comes into the ACC/Big 10 challenge matchup with Nebraska nursing its wounds after dropping the Cayman Classic Championship to Creighton last week. The Tigers allowed the Blue Jays to dictate the pace and the action and essentially got into a 3 point shooting contest they couldn’t win. The inside advantage of Eli Thomas was mostly ignored but also affected by the questionable officiating of Jamie Luckie (called 3 offensive fouls on Thomas, 2 which were beyond ridiculous). Even still, the Tigers simply were outplayed and did not defend at anywhere near the level a Brownell team is used to doing.
Nebraska enters the contest at 5-1 with its only loss coming to a very good Texas Tech team currently rated 11th in the KenPom rankings. Nebraska is actually rated a little higher than Creighton, though they are a different type of team in that they don’t rely nearly as much on 3 point shooting. They have been extremely efficient so far this season, posting a 60.1% 2 point field goal percentage and 55.3 effective FG percentage. In fact, the Huskers and Tigers have very similar footprints along the KenPom statistical breakdown. This will be a challenging game and the Tigers will need to play a good bit better than they did last time out. Hopefully the time off and extra practice time will reap rewards.
I have only watched a little of Nebraska and that was in their lone loss to Texas Tech where they did not look great. However, this Huskers team should compete for a bid to the NCAA tournament, and I feel Creighton will get there as well, so this is an opportunity the team can’t afford to waste. This is a veteran Huskers squad which starts 3 seniors coming off a 22-11 season where they just missed the NCAA tournament and played in the NIT.
Nebraska’s players to watch are small forward James Palmer who averages 17.2 points and 4.4 rebounds a game, center Isaac Copeland who puts up 12.9 pts and 6.1 rebounds a game, and point guard Glynn Watson who averages 10.5 points and 3.2 assists per game. I feel the battle between Thomas and Copeland will be one to really watch and could determine the game depending on which one can get the other in foul trouble.
The Sheldon Mitchell vs. Glynn Watson battle is the other one to really watch. Palmer will likely draw defensive specialist David Skara, and it will be interesting to see how Nebraska chooses to deal with Marcquise Reed who has been scoring at a prolific rate so far this season.
Ultimately this is a game against a team who can match up pretty well across the board and plays a similar style and pace as the Tigers do. Which team can execute its game and keep its key players out of foul trouble will go a long way to deciding this. I’d probably give the Huskers the edge if this was a road game, but the Tigers have to defend home court here and not get a negative slide going with South Carolina and Mississippi State still to come before ACC play.
KenPom has the Tigers winning (64%) 71-67, and I think the first team to 60 points will win.