What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of a blogger for an opposing team; he answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Next up: David, from Corn Nation, SB Nation's home for all things Nebraska.
1) Damn you, snow! Do you think delaying the game to Saturday will have much effect on other side? Does it benefit either team? I can't speak for the health of Nebraska's team, but Iowa was in pretty good health at this point of the season, so I'm not sure there's anyone who would benefit a great deal from a few extra days of rest and preparation. (I'm sure everyone appreciates a few days of rest this late in the season, but no one on Iowa is dealing with an injury situation that would be altered by this delay in the schedule.)
All things considered, the Huskers are fairly healthy. Brandon Ubel battled an elbow injury early in conference play, as did Shavon Shields at the start of the year. The injuries have been more to the guys that are the seventh or eighth guy in the rotation. The starters have stayed pretty healthy, otherwise, they might be the team that was winless in conference play.
I don't see the delay as a huge advantage for one team or the other unless it causes Iowa travel issues tomorrow. It's just one of those things that happens in this part of the country. The Huskers had their by just a couple of weeks ago, so it's not like they've really needed the extra rest. I'd imagine it the extra time is good for Iowa as they get ramped up for a final NCAA push.
2) What's the secret to Nebraska's home cooking? You're only 2-5 at home, but you've put some impressive scares into some very good teams: Wisconsin, Ohio State, even the Michigan State game last week was closer than I would have guessed. Is this just a young team that's more comfortable playing at home?
It's interesting, because early on in conference play, they really struggled at home and got off to some really slow starts that they couldn't dig out of. It probably cost them games vs. Purdue and Wisconsin, otherwise, we could be talking about NU looking to find it's way into the NIT, which would have been a complete miracle given the expectations coming into the season, but, alas, they didn't make the plays they needed to and we're stuck here. But, by and large, yeah, I think so, but it doesn't really feel like home cooking when you're still losing all of those games. Also, they've played pretty well on the road, too. They scared the pants off of the Michigan schools in consecutive games early in conference play and were within a point in East Lansing in the final couple of minutes. I think it's common for young teams to play better at home while they learn to play at this level. NU has caught some teams off guard this year with their energy level and the fact that their starters aren't complete scrubs like we were sold in November, but when teams with more talent have matched NU'd intensity, it's gotten a little ugly at times, which was what most expected would happen. Not sure if that entirely answers your question. I got lost on a a rabbit trail there somewhere
3) Who are the biggest threats on this Nebraska team? Dylan Talley looks like the main threat, since he's leading the team in scoring (13.8 ppg), second in rebounding (5.1 rpg), and tied for the lead in assists (2.3 apg). Is there anyone else who could get hot and give the Hawkeys some problems?
Yeah, him and Brandon Ubel, they're the most consistent. They'll ge theirs, almost regardless of what happens. The guys that you will want to keep an eye on will be Ray Gallegos and Shavon Shields. Gallegos is one of the streakiest shooters I've ever seen at NU. He's going to chuck up 13-16 shots per game, just bank on it. The question is does he hit eight of those or does he hit two. If he hits eight, NU's going to probably have a big night and the Hawkeyes will be heading home with a huge hit to their tourney resume. He's as boom or bust as it gets.
Shields is a freshman who's really come on as the season has progressed. He's a smart player who's learned to play at this level pretty quickly. He's stayed in the 6-8 point range for the most part. If he gets above 10, it probably bodes will for NU as well. Ubel and David Rivers can burn Iowa too, but Gallegos and Shields are the biggest threats to Iowa leaving Lincoln with a win.
4) What can you tell us about Tim Miles' preferred style of play? He has Nebraska playing at a very slow pace this year -- is that indicative of what he wants to do or is that just something he's doing based on the players on hand?
Completely indicative of the talent he has on hand. He wants to run a base motion offense and I think would like to get out and run more, he's certainly recruiting to that. As I understand it, he wants to do more of what I've seen from Indiana and your Hawkeyes, get up and down, pressure the ball, attack the rim, have very good shooters. He doesn't have the athletes for that yet, but they're on their way.
5) Please tell me that Andre Almeida has an amusing nickname (or three). Not to pick on the fat guy (especially as someone who is in, shall we say, "blogger shape"), but there's something inherently funny about a man that large on the basketball court. Has Bo Pelini tried to pry him away to play offensive guard yet?
He's got several nicknames, none of them are fit for print. As far as I know Bo hasn't contacted him, but more than once it's been suggested by know-it-alls like me. He's never quite lived up to his JUCO all-american billing and has been a foul magnet. He's been called for the "being 120 pounds bigger than the guy with the ball" foul several times this year. It's kinda funny to watch a guard jump into him and bounce off like a tennis ball. It gets called for a foul every time because that sort of thing just doesn't look very normal for a basketball game. Whatevs. But he can cause other teams fits at times. He's the epitome of boom or bust. He's either dreadful or he's serviceable He's only been good once or twice. It's a nice surprise when it is, we've stopped expecting it, though.
6) OK, prediction time -- who ya got?
You're not going to like this, but I like Nebraska in this one. If they're going to make one last, unlikely push towards a post season berth it's going to have to start on Saturday. I see Gallegos and Shields having productive days to go along with the steady Talley and Ubel. I think it will be close, but the Huskers clamp down on defense and grind it out. I'm gonna go 61-55, Huskers hit their free throws down the stretch.
Thanks for being a good sport, David. You can catch David and the rest of his corn-loving cohorts at Corn Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter at @dpm917 and Corn Nation on Twitter at @CornNation. The Iowa-Nebraska game is on Saturday, February 23 at 1pm CT, with "television" coverage from BTN2Go.