Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#687 Nebraska 146 vs.
#688 Creighton -11.5
Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 2:30pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#687 University of Nebraska–Lincoln
#688 Creighton University
4-4
6-2
16-17-2
18-16
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13-21
71
77
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The Nebraska Cornhuskers will head on the road to CHI Health Center Omaha on Saturday evening for a non-conference tilt versus the Creighton Bluejays.

Fred Hoiberg’s first season at Nebraska got off to a rocky start with back-to-back losses against teams ranked outside of the top-150. The Cornhuskers have since responded with four wins over their past six games to come in with a 4-4 overall record. Nebraska will try for its first quality win of the season on Saturday in what will be their second consecutive Tier-A contest. Creighton is hoping to close out the non-conference schedule strong after winning six of their first eight contests to open the season. Can the Bluejays avoid an upset at home against a Cornhuskers team that is starting to catch its stride?

Nebraska still looking for first marquee win under Hoiberg

Nebraska was unable to earn its first quality win of the season on Wednesday, losing on the road to Georgia Tech 73-56. It was a rough shooting night for the Cornhuskers, who made just 32.3 percent of their field-goal attempts and 6 of their 26 attempts from beyond the 3-point line. Haanif Cheatham scored a team-high 14 points and 11 rebounds while Cam Mack, Jervey Green, and Thorir Thorjarnarson added 11 points apiece in a losing effort for the Cornhuskers.

Hoiberg’s squad has stumbled out to a 4-4 record through eight games and they enter the weekend slotted at No. 147 in the latest KenPom rankings. Nebraska plays fast and they don’t turn the ball over at a high rate but poor shooting and a lack of second-chance opportunities on the offensive glass have held them back on offense. Led by Cheatham (12.4 points per game), Nebraska has scored 99.9 points per 100 possessions for the season (168th in the NCAA) while turning the ball over on only 16.6 percent of their offensive possessions (42nd in the NCAA). However, the Cornhuskers have shot just 56.3 percent from the free-throw line as a team (348th in the NCAA) and they own an offensive rebounding rate of just 20.1 percent (336th in the NCAA).

On defense, the Cornhuskers have surrendered 99.1 points per 100 possessions (149th in the NCAA) and they’ve excelled at defending the 3-point arc, limiting teams to just 29.0 percent from distance (59th in the NCAA).

Creighton hitting its stride on offense

Creighton topped Oral Roberts 72-60 on Tuesday evening to improve to 6-2 through their first eight contests. Sophomore Christian Bishop led the team in scoring with 17 points while Marcus Zegarowski and Ty-Shon Alexander added 14 points apiece for the Bluejays, who led by as many as 22 points before taking their foot off of the gas pedal late.

Greg McDermott’s squad comes in ranked No. 56 in the latest KenPom rankings but they’ve started to hit their stride on offense. The Bluejays enter the weekend scoring 110.1 points per 100 possessions (20th in the NCAA) while allowing only 97.5 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end of the floor (118th in the NCAA). Creighton has been one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation so far this season. They sport an effective field goal percentage of 53.9 percent (41st in the NCAA) and have turned the ball over just 16.3 percent of the time on offense.

The Bluejays are a jump-shooting team though and they don’t get offensive rebounds (227th in the NCAA) or get to the free-throw line (312th in the NCAA), which leaves them vulnerable on off-shooting nights. Even when they get there, the Bluejays have left points at the free-throw line, where they have shot just 65.5 percent as a team (279th in the NCAA) this season.

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Nebraska has faced a relatively easy non-conference schedule to this point and yet they have stumbled their way to a 4-4 record. Perhaps most telling for the Cornhuskers has been their work or lack thereof on the glass. They rank outside the top-335 in rebounding on both ends of the floor and they have struggled to take advantage of their opportunities from the free-throw line. That’s going to make life hard on them on the road against Creighton, which ranks as their toughest opponent to date. The Bluejays are starting to hit their stride offensively, so look for them to cover the number at home against Nebraska on Saturday afternoon. 

Prediction: Creighton Bluejays

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Both of these teams want to push the pace on offense. Creighton gets its shots up in about 16.5 seconds on offense, which ranks in the top-100 in the country. Meanwhile, the Cornhuskers have sped up the tempo under Fred Hoiberg, ranking 42nd in adjusted tempo and 18th in average possession length on offense at just 15.1 seconds per offensive possession. Neither of these teams turn the ball over or force turnovers at a high-rate, so expect a high-scoring game here. Take this major conference matchup to go over the projected total on Saturday.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.