Maryland basketball starts 2017 with a game against one of its most confusing opponents yet.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers beat Indiana at Assembly Hall on Wednesday. That’s as tough a thing as there is to do in the Big Ten. But the Huskers are also 7-6 this year, with a loss to Gardner-Webb scarring their resume. That record might be a little deceiving, as Nebraska’s played the seventh-hardest schedule in the country, according to KenPom.
Maryland, on the other hand, has played the 223rd-hardest schedule. So there’s a chance the Terps’ record could look something like Nebraska’s had they played such a tough slate. But they didn’t, so we have Sunday’s game to figure things out.
The teams tip off at noon on BTN. Tom Werme and Dan Bonner have the call.
Will students be in attendance for a noon game the day after New Year’s Eve? Will they even be awake? We’ll find out together.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-6)
2015-16 record: 16-18
Head coach: Tim Miles
KenPom ranking: 86 (Maryland is 64)
Players to watch
Tai Webster, guard, senior, 6’4/199, No. 0. Nebraska lost its two best players from a season ago, Savon Shields (graduation) and Andrew White (transfer), so Webster has picked up the slack. He’s averaging 17 points per game as Nebraska’s leading scorer, and also is tops in assists (3.8) and third on the team in rebounds (five).
Glynn Watson Jr., guard, sophomore, 6’0/160, No. 5. Watson has made the natural jump from his freshman season. He’s most notably increased his three-point shooting percentage 12 points, up to 39 percent, and is second on the team in scoring at 14 points per game.
Ed Morrow, forward, sophomore, 6’7/215, No. 30. Morrow is Nebraska’s one inside scoring threat. He averages 11 points on 56 percent shooting, and all of his buckets have come from inside the arc. He’s an effective rebounder too, grabbing 8.5 boards per game.
Defense. The Huskers force the 76th-most giveaways in the country, and the 26th-most steals. Watson leads that effort with 2.2 steals per game.
Offensive rebounding. Nebraska has the 69th-best offensive-rebound rate in the country at 34 percent. Morrow averages over three per game, which helps.
Shooting. The Huskers rank 305th in the country with an effective field goal percentage of 46. That’s quite bad. They aren’t particularly good shooters from anywhere on the floor except the foul line, where they hit 74 percent.
Perimeter offense and defense. They also rank 303rd in three-point shooting percentage and 290th in opponents’ three-point percentage. Maryland’s been able to get open looks from three all season. Will the Terps be able to knock them down?
KenPom’s prediction: Maryland 72, Nebraska 65. Terps have a 75 percent chance of winning.
Ryan’s prediction: Maryland 77, Nebraska 70.