Iowa (17-9, 6-7) at Nebraska (12-14, 3-10)
Date: February 23, 2013
Time: 1:00 p.m. CT
Location: Bob Devaney Center, Lincoln
Line: Iowa -6
Iowa takes its three-game conference winning streak on the road Saturday afternoon in a weather-delayed contest against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. This week's snowstorm accidentally gave the Hawkeyes their first six-day break since January 13-19, a delay which culminated in an Iowa win over Wisconsin.
The Huskers aren't exactly setting the world on fire this season, falling below .500 in back-to-back losses to Indiana and Michigan State last week. First-year head coach Tim Miles has Nebraska playing as one of the conference's lowest-tempo teams (62.9 adjusted tempo, ninth in the Big Ten). Nebraska has not broken 70 points in a Big Ten game, and have broken that mark only three times all season, and it's not just tempo-related.
No, the Cornhuskers are the conference's least efficient offensive team. The Huskers are one of the worst perimeter shooting teams in the nation; their 30.1 percent shooting percentage from behind the arc is 312th nationally (and barely better than Iowa), and their 45.5 percent two-point shooting percentage does not rank much higher. They're horrendous on the offensive glass, they get over 10 percent of their shots blocked, and they don't get to the free throw line. The one thing they do well: Ball control. Nebraska turns the ball over on just one in six possessions, has it stolen in about one in twelve. So at least they get shots.
Defensively, Nebraska is much improved. They don't cause many turnovers and commit too many fouls on shooters, but the Huskers box out well (opponents rebound just 30 percent of their own misses), limit interior passing, and hold their opponents' perimeter shooting down. Nebraska plays man-to-man defense primarily.
The Huskers are led by guards Dylan Talley and Ray Gallegos, who account for 45 percent of Nebraska's scoring, 35 percent of the Huskers' assists, and a quarter of their rebounds. Senior forward Brandon Ubel has added 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. No other Husker averages more than 8 points per game. Andre Almeida (yes, the fat guy) is their primary shot blocker, but Nebraska doesn't block a ton of shots. Aside from Ubel and little-used guard Jordan Tyrance, Nebraska is susceptible at the free throw line.
So Iowa gets a slow-tempo, guard-oriented team that doesn't have a serious outside threat and is fundamentally sound but not particularly opportunistic on defense. This is the same formula used by Wisconsin and Northwestern (and, to a lesser extent, Minnesota) this season, and a formula exploited by Iowa in earlier games. These Hawkeyes seem to have little trouble forcing ball-control teams into turning it over and converting those turnovers not only into points but increased tempo. In theory, this feels like a trap game, right down to the 48-hour delay for tipoff. But Nebraska simply sets up well for Iowa, and that should be enough to nullify any advantage that the home crowd, the snowstorm, or the emotional state of either team gives to the Huskers.