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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Nebraska preview

The Terps return home to face the upstart Cornhuskers.

Cal Tobias/Testudo Times

Maryland men’s basketball hosts Nebraska on Saturday in a crucial Big Ten contest. The Terps recently defeated Iowa on the road, but will need to defeat the Cornhuskers to maintain their momentum and keep hopes alive of a mid-season turnaround.

Saturday’s game, set to tip off at noon, will air on Big Ten Network.

Last season, Maryland and Nebraska split their two matchups, with the home team winning each time. Saturday will be the only time the two teams play in the regular season this time around, and it marks the final January game for the Terps.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (15-5, 5-4 Big Ten)

There was a point last season where it seemed like Fred Hoiberg’s tenure as Nebraska’s head coach was destined to end in failure. But a strong end to the 2022-23 campaign and a much-improved squad this year have the Cornhuskers in their best position in years.

Nebraska is currently included in all but two of the 81 NCAA Tournament projections compiled by BracketMatrix.com. If that were to hold up, the Cornhuskers would be in the field for the first time since 2014, and just the second time in 25 years. Their most valuable resume piece is a home win over Purdue, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time.

Players to watch

Keisei Tominaga, senior guard, 6-foot-2, No. 30 — Tominaga is one of the most exciting players in the Big Ten. A prolific shooter who’s averaging 14 points per game and knocking down nearly 40% of his threes, he is often a spark with a knack for hitting big shots.

Brice Williams, junior guard, 6-foot-7, No. 3 — Williams is putting together his third straight season as an integral piece of Nebraska’s team. With an average of 13.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, he’s been at the forefront of the Cornhuskers’ success.

Rienk Mast, junior forward, 6-foot-10, No. 51 — Overall, Mask has been Nebraska’s most productive player. He’s averaging 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, having posted a mammoth 34 points and 10 rebounds in the team’s most recent game against Ohio State.

Strength

Scoring. Nebraska boasts one of the more efficient offenses in the Big Ten, ranked No. 24 nationally by KenPom.com. The Cornhuskers have scored at least 80 points in all but four of their wins.

Weakness

Offensive balance. For as much success they’ve had on the offensive end, the Cornhuskers are not a well-balanced team. Only 43.9% of their points come inside the three-point arc, one of the lowest marks in the nation.

Three things to watch

1. Juwan Gary’s absence. When healthy, Gary is one of Nebraska’s top players. But the 6-foot-6 forward will not be active against Maryland, according to Hoiberg, as he’s still nursing a calf injury.

2. Maryland’s defense. Maryland has been rock-solid on the defensive end this season, ranking 13th nationally in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. The Terps are a middle-of-the-pack team statistically at defending the three, though, which may make for an interesting matchup with the three-happy Cornhuskers.

3. Can Jahmir Young keep it rolling? Young has been one of the nation’s best guards this season. Last game, he contributed Maryland’s last eight points and capped off a sensational showing with a game-winning layup. If Maryland is going to beat Nebraska, it’ll need another strong game from him.