Nebraska’s road trip rolls into Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday, Nov. 27 as the Huskers square off against the No. 5 Louisville Cardinals in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.
Nebraska had a shaky start to the season, going 2-3 over its first five games. The Huskers three losses have come against No. 24 Drake, No. 21 Miami and Washington State 87-84 in double overtime. The Huskers bounced back and won their latest game 77-39 against Radford on Sunday.
Though the Huskers are winless against top-25 teams this season, they have shown they can shoot as well as these teams. So far, the Huskers have shot 38.9 percent from the 3-point line and 45.3 percent from the field as a team and average 78 points per game.
Louisville, on the other hand, is undefeated at 6-0 and has won five of those games by double-digits. Its only close game came against No. 19 Arizona State, who the Cardinals beat 58-56, but lost starting senior guard Yacine Diop for the season to a torn ACL.
Louisville averages 81 points per game while shooting 44.1 percent from the 3-point line and 50.3 percent from the field. Senior guard Asia Durr leads the way for the Cardinals with 21.2 points per game.
The Huskers’ problems are highlighted by their defense and ball control problems. The Huskers gave up over 80 points in each of their three losses. Nebraska’s turnover margin is -1.2 per game. Double-digit turnovers in four games have shown lack of ball control and affect the offense pace, leading to offensive inconsistency.
Nebraska’s offensive inconsistency is best highlighted by the second quarter, where the Huskers have scored just 57 points on the season while putting up over 100 points in the other quarters.
Nebraska is the clear underdog coming into this road game, but there are a few ways the Huskers could pull off the upset. It has to start with the defense as Nebraska can’t try to out-shoot Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center.
One advantage the Huskers have is size. Five Louisville players are above six foot compared to the Huskers’ nine. With some of Louisville’s top scorers being below six foot, the Huskers’ size can limit Louisville’s outside shooting ability, but Louisville’s talented forwards can force talent mismatches against Nebraska’s guards.
The Huskers’ size can be countered by the Cardinals speed. This is where clean basketball is going to be key for Nebraska. The Cardinals’ defense has been stellar this season, giving up 61 points a game and forcing 17 turnovers a game.
For the Huskers offense, protecting the basketball is always key, but Nebraska has to dictate the pace of the game. The offense has to slow down the game to prevent extra Louisville possessions as well as exploit the Cardinals’ size disadvantage in the paint.
The Huskers can have a season-defining win Thursday night, but will have to play their best basketball of the season. Facing a strong Louisville team is no easy task, but Nebraska has resiliency and can pull off the upset.
The Nebraska-Louisville game will be on Thursday, Nov. 29 starting at 6:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.