Nebraska (12-16) at Minnesota (17-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Williams Arena (14,625) -- Minneapolis, Minnesota. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Nebraska 9-8, Minnesota 12-6. Away Record: Nebraska 3-8, Minnesota 3-6. Neutral Record: Nebraska 0-0, Minnesota 2-1. Conference Record: Nebraska 4-13, Minnesota 5-12. Series Record: Minnesota leads, 47-13.
GAME NOTES: The Nebraska Cornhuskers will visit Williams Arena this afternoon to close out the Big Ten Conference regular season against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Minnesota notched a 69-61 road win over the Cornhuskers on Feb. 5 and owns a commanding 47-13 lead in the all-time series. However, both teams have struggled mightily of late.
Nebraska has dropped three in a row and seven of its last eight outings overall. Most recently, the Cornhuskers were dealt a 62-53 home loss by Iowa on Wednesday. Still, they can move up to 10th place in the Big Ten standings with a win today and a Penn State loss to Michigan on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Minnesota has faded badly with six consecutive losses ever since beating Nebraska in Lincoln last month. The Golden Gophers are coming off a 52-45 setback at Wisconsin this past Tuesday. The 45 points marked their lowest scoring output of the season.
Despite shooting just 28.6 percent from the floor and going 1-of-11 from beyond the arc in the first half of Wednesday's bout with Iowa, the Cornhuskers trailed just 23-19 at the half. However, Iowa pulled away with a 15-3 run in the second stanza and the Cornhuskers were never able to recover, as they finished the game just 4-of-24 from three-point range (.167). The loss spoiled an impressive effort by forward Brandon Ubel, who shot a perfect 7- of-7 from the floor en route to a career-high 17 points, marking the second straight game he led the team in scoring. Ubel is averaging 11.0 points and 5.0 rebounds over his last four games, shooting a red-hot 74 percent from the floor in that span. Guard Caleb Walker added 15 points, although they were the only two players in double figures for the Huskers, who shot just 36.5 percent from the floor as a team. On the season, Nebraska is putting up just 60.6 points per game, which ranked 309th out of 338 Division I teams entering the week. Bo Spencer is the only double-digit scorer, putting up 14.9 ppg. Point guard Brandon Richardson (7.3 ppg) has posted a 2.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last nine games, as he and Ubel are the only two Huskers who have been in the starting lineup for every game this season.
The Golden Gophers lost leading scorer Trevor Mbakwe to a season-ending knee injury after just seven games, and they have struggled to replace his production. Rodney Williams leads the team with 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per tilt, while Julian Welch is scoring 10.2 ppg and shooting a team-best 43.4 percent from beyond the arc. Williams ranks fifth in the Big Ten in shooting percentage (.550) and fourth in blocked shots (1.4). Without a true go-to scorer, the Gophers instead rely on a balanced offense, with a total of seven players averaging at least five points. One area where Minnesota has managed to hold its own is on the boards, as the team boasts a +3.2 rebounding margin on the season. However, not a whole lot went right against 14th-ranked Wisconsin earlier this week, as the Gophers shot a dismal 23.9 percent from the floor. They were able to hang around with a strong defensive effort, and even led by seven at the half. Minnesota shot just 6-of-24 in the second half and reached the team foul limit with more than 14 minutes remaining. Wisconsin capitalized, making 16-of-20 free throws over the final 20 minutes. Andre Hollins scored a team-high 18 points in the loss, while Williams finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, albeit on 3-of-10 shooting from the floor.
Despite their offensive struggles, the Golden Gophers won the first meeting with Nebraska on the road, and they should be able to sweep the season series here at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Minnesota 59, Nebraska 57
03/03 10:39:22 ET