Nebraska: Know Your Rival

Alright, now that I've done this preview thing once, I'm into it.  Let's do it again!

And as with last time, all of these stats are based solely off of conference play.

vs Big 12
Nebraska: 5-4

NU Opp
Points Per Minute
1.57 1.53
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.01 0.99
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.26 1.31
2-PT FG% 44.6% 51.7%
3-PT FG% 37.7% 35.8%
FT% 69.2% 66.9%
True Shooting % 53.3% 55.9%
NU Opp
Assists 112 105
Steals 73 48
Turnovers 105 153
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.76 1.00
NU Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds 103 91
Offensive Rebounds 71 85
Difference -32 -6
  • This is a huge game for Nebraska.  With a relatively unimpressive RPI, you figure they probably have to get to 10-6 to make the NCAA Tournament, meaning they have to win 5 of their final 7.  They have three winnable home games against Colorado, ATM and Iowa State, but they'll need to snag at least one road game, probably two.  Their remaining road slate?  Mizzou, Kansas, Kansas State, and Baylor.  Winning two of those probably means winning at Baylor and either MU or KSU.  Expect their best effort.
  • Fortunately for Mizzou, it's going to be another sellout crowd, and we've seen in the last two home games just how much that crowd can get into Mizzou opponents' heads and wear them down along with Mizzou's pressure.  In the last 5:30 against Baylor, Mizzou outscored the Bears 21-5.  In the last 3:50 against KU, Mizzou outscored the Beakers 11-2.
  • To figure out how Mizzou lost to Nebraska the first time around, look no further than everybody's favorite new stat, BCI.  I doubt anybody in the conference can touch Mizzou's 2.25 to 1.03 BCI ratio, but I'm pretty sure NU would be in the top 3 or 4.  They use exactly the same formula as Mizzou to win games--steals, good passing, solid shooting accounting for iffy rebounding. 
  • Really, the main reasons Mizzou is 8-2 and NU is 5-4 are a) NU allows a higher shooting %, and b) NU is worse at rebounding.  That, and Mizzou's faster pace likely allows them to maximize their BCI advantage and get more points out of it.
Player AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Ade Dagunduro (Sr)
15.41 0.59 14.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 2.3 TOPG
Cookie Miller (So)
11.15 0.34 9.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, 2.3 TOPG
Ryan Anderson (Jr)
8.83 0.33 7.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.6 SPG
Steve Harley (Sr)
7.22 0.23 8.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.1 SPG
Sek Henry (Jr)
6.33 0.22 7.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.7 APG
Paul Velander (Sr)
4.85 0.20 6.8 PPG, 1.4 RPG
Toney McCray (Fr)
4.69 0.42 4.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG
Brandon Richardson (Fr)
3.52 0.31 4.4 PPG, 1.0 RPG
Cole Salomon (Jr)
2.13 0.27 1.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG
Chris Balham (Jr)
1.41 0.12 1.9 PPG, 2.4 RPG
Ben Nelson (Jr)
0.00 0.00 1 minute
Nick Krenk (Sr)
0.00 0.00 1 minute
Alonzo Edwards (Fr)
-0.50 -0.50 2 minutes

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It does the same thing my previous measure of choice did (it takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game), only the formula is more used and accepted.  The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • With basically five players averaging between 7 and 10 points per game, and another two averaging between 4 and 5, this is clearly a pretty balanced team.  Ade Dagunduro, the 6'5 senior, is the star from the points perspective.
  • NU has one of the littlest backcourts you'll ever see.  Their starting guards are 5'7, 165 (Miller) and 5'11, 180 (Harley).  They are good at the ball control game, with both averaging better than a 2-to-1 BCI (Miller 2.19, Harley 2.50).  Ryan Anderson (2.80) is also solid in the BCI category, but he's taller (6'4, 205), so who cares.
  • One thing to note: both Miller and Harley average over 30 minutes per game (with Sek Henry coming in at 29.2), so there will be some wear-down potential there.
  • This team basically has two shooters: Dagunduro (0.35 shots per minute) and Harley (0.31).  Nobody else averages more than 0.23 shots per minute--it's clear the offense runs through them.  Meanwhile, it's all about team rebounding for NU, as none of the major six players in the rotation average even 0.20 rebounds per minute (for perspective: DeMarre Carroll averages 0.32, Leo Lyons 0.24).

Keys to the Game

  1. Why, BCI, of course!  In Mizzou's trip to Lincoln ten games ago, NU put up a 1.18 BCI and Mizzou put up a 1.00.  It's been made crystal clear by now that if Mizzou loses this battle, it's really hard for them to win the game.

  2. Mizzou Arena.  This sets up for another perfect "Mizzou pulls away down the stretch" situation, as a) NU's two main ball handlers average well over 30 MPG in conference play, b) MU surged in the second half in Lincoln, and c) Mizzou Arena has been amazing the last two games.  Mizzou's going to need it, as their lack of natural scorers was a major problem in Lincoln.  NU plays smart, tough defense and forces you to take shots out of your comfort zone (against Mizzou, anyway...their True Shooting % allowed certainly isn't very good).  Mizzou has proven that it doesn't have much of a shooting comfort zone, so they're going to have to rely on pressure, tempo and home court to deliver the knockout blow.

  3. Focus.  Last time Mizzou beat KU at home, they proceeded to lose 9 of 10.  That's not going to happen this time, as...well, this team is much, much better than that 2004-05 team.  I feel like I'm insulting this team to even make that comparison.  That said, while Mizzou deftly avoided a potential trap game last weekend in Ames, they'll need to make sure not to lapse against Nebraska.  NU's not good enough to beat a Mizzou A-game, but they're crafty and resourceful (like their coach), and they'll take you out if you're not ready.

Prediction

Hold onto the ball, make some shots, don't give NU hope on the boards, lean on the home crowd (and Hustle & Flow) down the stretch, wear down the guards, win the game.  Mizzou 77, Nebraska 65.

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