Previewing MSU vs. Nebraska

Matthew Holst

Game time: 6 p.m. ET
Location: Jack Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, Mich.
TV: BTN
Online streaming: BTN2GO
Radio: Spartan Sports Network

Fresh off a win at Iowa, the Spartans are back in action, hosting Nebraska on Sunday night.

This will be the second game in four days for MSU, and the second of a stretch that includes four games in 10 days. It's also the third of a four-game stretch in which MSU has to win all of them. Two down, two to go.

This one's gonna be ugly, in case you wanted to watch football instead. The Cornhuskers play slow, and they play defense. In their last two games, they lost to Wisconsin 47-41 at home, then played Michigan tough until the end, ultimately falling 62-47. If the MSU offense that beat Iowa showed up, we might not get to the 60s.

In terms of rankings, KenPom has Huskers at No. 176, which is the second-lowest in the Big Ten (Penn State is No. 196 as the only other B1G team outside the top 100). Nebraska averages 63 possessions a game, which is No. 313 in the country.

Along with the low number of possessions, the Husker offense is No. 271 in offensive efficiency (93.3) and No. 239 in eFG% (46.3). MSU's defense is going to have a field day. The only notable part of Nebraska's offense is that they don't turn the ball over much (18.1%, 8.1 steal %). MSU has uncharacteristically feasted on turnovers this season. They might have to rely on typical tough shot-forcing.

Nebraska relies on inside play, though two of the leading scorers are guards. Three players average in double figures: Dylan Talley (13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds), Ray Gallegos (13.4 points, 2.9 rebounds) and Brandon Ubel (12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds). Talley (a guard) is the main guy, with a usage rate of 27.3 percent. (Update: Tim has reminded me that Ubel is out due to injury. Rotation player Mike Peltz is also out.)

The Huskers don't shoot particularly well on 2 pointers (46.9 percent), but are dreadful from three (29.9 percent). Like I said, ugly.

Defensively, they're alright. No. 81 in eff, but they're not great in anything, except for not allowing offensive rebounds (26.1 percent, No. 19). Perhaps the best news for MSU is that the Huskers don't force many turnovers (18.1 percent, 7.1 steals percent). When MSU doesn't turn the ball over, the offense is quite efficient.

Nebraska also doesn't get many offensive rebounds, nor gets to the free-throw line very much.

MSU was a mess for much of that game against Iowa. Although the Huskers aren't very good, they frustrate a lot of offenses. Keith Appling has been good running the point in Big Ten play, cutting down on the turnovers, but he has to be better with his shot selection. Branden Dawson has had two straight solid games and hopefully is turning a corner offensively. MSU usually needs one of Adreian Payne or Derrick Nix to do well. Gary Harris is toughing out his shoulders popping out.

KenPom predicts a 66-49 MSU win, with a 95 percent win probability. It would be nice for MSU to jump out to a big lead, play some more bench players and give the starters a break, given the lack of time off this week. It would be nice.

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