Michigan-Nebraska Preview: Look At Me Now

Nebraska coach Tim Miles taking in one of the B1Gest games of the young conference schedule, a 47-41 defeat against Wisconsin, during which molasses probably started leaking from the roof. - Eric Francis

Well, this has been pretty neat. This season has been the basketball equivalent of the Charles Woodson interception against MSU in 1997, on a loop. As the esteemed Hawk Harrelson would say --*dodges thrown tomatoes, ignores boos*-- "Don't stop now, boys!"

Exposition

I'm not sure that anything can assuage the negative feelings that stemmed from Michigan's unfortunately flailing performance in Lincoln back in October; however, a win tonight at the Crisler Arena Center Building would be a good start.

The Wolverines have cut through the first stretch of the schedule like Balboa en route to the Pacific. Other than a sort of close game at Bradley and an understandably B1G-esque grind of a game against Pitt, Michigan has for the most part obliterated every challenger on the docket thus far. When you're at the point that expecting a 90+ point output on a regular basis and for Nik Stauskas to shoot only slightly worse from three than NBA center Omer Asik does from the free throw line, you know you're: a) probably pretty spoiled and b) probably prettyyy prettyyy prettyyy good.

Throughout the joyous, Kevin-Malone-giggle-inducing ride that has been this 15-0 start, few even relatively minor concerns have arisen out of Michigan's play to date. Michigan lacks a true defensive stopper like Indiana's Victor Oladipo, but with the pairing of the exponentially improving Mitch McGary, paired with the return of Jon Horford (hopefully soon), Michigan boasts a more than adequate shot-blocking presence.

Otherwise, Michigan doesn't commit many stupid fouls despite giving so many freshmen serious run and the offense's ability to dissect teams in the half court with intermittent bursts of transition flash has made it difficult for opponents to pick up many easy buckets.

Indiana made it to the Sweet 16 and gave Kentucky a scare despite having a similarly non-elite defense last season; I think we can all agree that the versatility, abundance of options and overall talent of this offensive attack more than makes up for this. But, I'm looking ahead, and, as we all know, there is a direct correlation between fans looking ahead and said fans' team losing.

The Opponent

Nebraska enters Crisler for its lone meeting with the Wolverines this season tonight, dragging a 9-6 record and being one of a quartet of Big Ten teams still wanting a conference win (the other three being Northwestern, Iowa and Penn State). Needless to say, this is another game with serious blowout possibilities for Michigan, assuming that even 75% of its average level of play is put forth tonight.

After starting 4-0, the Huskers have since dropped games to: Kent State, Creighton, Oregon (an ugly 60-38 L), a 16-point defeat at now 6-6 UTEP, a rout at Ohio State and the aforementioned macabre outing against Wisconsin. Unless you've played a truly heroic nonconference schedule, four losses entering the conference slate --and two losses to begin it-- means that you're not very good.

As for personnel, 6'5'' senior guard Dylan Talley leads the way with 13.5 ppg and a second-best 5.5 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for Nebraska, he seems to simply be "The guy on bad teams who takes all the shots and misses many of them, Sponsored by Bo Spencer." He has attempted 203 field goals, 28 more than the guy in second, and is shooting just 35% from the field. He's equally poor from 2- and 3-point land, further confirming the aforementioned hypothesis. Talley's season high is a 27-point game against 9-5 MAC squad Kent State, and he put up a combined 21 points against OSU and Wisconsin. A Brandon Paul Supernova game from Talley is not likely to happen unless Michigan spends most of the game literally sleeping on the Crisler Center floor in a post-holiday-induced malaise.

Otherwise, 6'2'' junior guard Ray Gallegos and 6'10'' senior forward Brandon Ubel round out the Nebraska trio of double digit points averaging guys (13.0 and 12.5 ppg, respectively). Ubel leads the team in rebounds with 6.6 per game. Andre Almeida is both enormous (listed at 6'11'', 314 lbs) and fourth on the team in ppg with 7.1 per. With Ubel, the 'Huskers have a nice pairing of size, one that would be even more formidable if center Jorge Brian Diaz had not left the program after missing most of last season with a foot injury.

Otherwise, Nebraska offers the generic medley of "just guys." Nebraska only goes about seven deep, with junior guard Mike Peltz being an 8th guy averaging just north of 15 mpg this season; however, he didn't play against Ohio State due to injury and only picked up eight minutes against Wisconsin.

Also of note, aforementioned Gozilla center Andre Almeida missed the Wisconsin game due to injury, but per the Nebraska athletics site, should be good to go for tonight.

The Gameplan

I mean, what is the point, really? Ace at MGoBlog has taken to just writing something along the lines of "just keep doing what you're doing," and I'm not sure much more is needed than that for tonight. So, instead, I will just pen some haikus for your perusal:

They are not good, man

Michigan is good at things

Don't be terrible?

----

IN THE CRISLER HOUSE

WE'LL PUT YOUR LIGHTS OUT WOO YEAH

OH GOD NO NO NO

---

Showtime in Ann Arb

Had to cut a syllable

Due to the format

Miscellaneous Stats

  • Talley tallies free throws i.e. this preview needs to end. Dylan Talley is a respectable 14th in the conference in free throw attempts. Luckily for Michigan, they don't ever foul needlessly, nor should they, because Talley shoots just 69% from the line and is not particularly accurate from the field anyhow. Let him shoot, please!
  • Pace. As is tradition, this game will be slooooow, save for when Michigan enters its evisceratin' transition game mode at some point late in the first half or early in the second. The Huskers are 324th in the country at 62.8 possessions per game, 2.5 possessions fewer per game than Michigan is averaging.
  • Turnovers. Despite having only just entered the B1G schedule, the Huskers have a turnover percentage of 18.6%, good for 7th in the conference. This, combined with the inevitable flurry of Talley shots yielding long rebounds, shoot be more than enough to jumpstart Michigan's terrifyingly rampaging when deployed transition game.

Ending Thoughts, Predictions, Etc.

In short, this has all the makings of another smashing victory. Part of me wants to say that a fourth straight obliteration of the magnitude seen in the last four games is unlikely, but everything points away from this doubting inclination.

Michigan cruises before resting up for its showdown in Columbus on Sunday. Michigan 82, Nebraska 57.

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