THE BRESLIN CENTER, EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2011, 2:00 PM EST
ONLINE RADIO FEED: Spartan Sports Network
Thank God for basketball. We can now turn our attention to a diversion of a completely different sort - and one that's more likely to have a positive outcome.
I avoid the use of terms like cupcake, punching bag or tomato can out of respect for all opponents. I will confine myself to a few facts about the Nebraska-Omaha basketball program. They are currently ranked #342 out of 345 Division I schools in Ken Pomeroy's rankings (#317 offense, #343 defense). They are new to D-I this year and, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, are one of only 4 schools playing without a conference affiliation. They were planning to reclassify to D-I in 2012 and join the Summit League but apparently reached some agreement with their former conference to leave a year early. The results have been, well, more or less what you would expect, but they have been competitive in many of their games. In fact, the Mavericks come to East Lansing fresh off last night's win over former Tom Izzo assistant Mark Montgomery's Northern Illinois squad. Of course that team is now 0-7, but a win is a win.
What follows is a preview I wrote last Summer. I think it's still fairly accurate, but if any of you is a real Mid-Majority type wonk or a UNO fan, please post any additions or corrections you may have in the comments. Otherwise try to keep it clean and legal. Enjoy.
Coach: Derrin Hansen - Record: 91-59 all with UNO
Last year: 19-9 overall, 15-7 in the MIAA
Top three returning players:
- Mitch Albers (G, 17.3 ppg, 2.0 apg)
- Alex Welhouse (F, 8.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
- John Karhoff (C, 6.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
Michigan State hosted Nebraska-Omaha in an exhibition game last year, which featured a matchup between Draymond Green and his older brother Torrian Harris. The Spartans prevailed in that game 102-72 behind 25 points from Kalin Lucas and 16 more from Green.
The Mavericks are set to leave the Division II MIAA and join the Division I Summit League in the 2012-13 season, but they come into this game in a rebuilding mode. Harris, their leading rebounder and third best scorer, has moved on as well as leading scorer and two-time All-MIAA guard Tyler Bullock. Second leading scorer Mitch Albers [Ed - currently averaging 19.4 ppg], who has assumed the role of primary scorer and center John Karhoff are the only returning starters. The rest of the roster is filled out with freshmen, bench players from last year and transfers.
Nebraska-Omaha played a fairly up-tempo style last year, averaging 81 points on 74 possessions per game. Given their lack of size (the tallest player is Karhoff at 6'8") this will probably be true again this year. But with no big scorers to contain on the outside, Michigan State should be able to exploit a considerable size advantage to bring home a win in this one.