1. Nebrasketball! Catch the Fever! The Huskers currently sit tied for fourth place in the Big Ten and have won 8 of their last 10 games. At a school that is more known for its football program, what is the excitement level in Lincoln about the team being in the hunt for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1998?
It's palpable, no question. It's leading the conversation all across town and in Omaha, where Creighton is chewing up the Big East, the rivalry is pretty intense. That said, the fanbase is also looking at it with a bit of trepidation. The shoe has dropped so many teams on this program that there are still a bunch of fans that are hesitant to jump in all the way. I'll just say this, I've had season tickets for about seven years now and this is the first season people have asked me if I've had any extras. I've never had to turn people down to go to games with me. It's been fun.
2. Sophomore transfer Terran Petteway leads the Huskers with 17.9 points per game. Other than him, which players on Nebraska should Hoosier fans be aware of before Wednesday's game?
Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford have emerged long with Petteway have emerged as a bit of a three-headed monster. Pitchford is a 6'10 post who plays on the perimiter as much as possible and might be the best from behind the arc on the team. That's not a slight on the rest of the team, he's a good shooter. Leave him open and he can burn you. Shields is a slasher who struggled out of the gate, but has come on strong as the games have become bigger and bigger. He'll hit the three when you give it to him, but he prefers to try and get to the rim and the line. The three have fed off of each other in this hot streak. Vs. Illinois, all three has off games, if that happens again, it will be a long night for the Huskers. If two of the three play well, they'll be in it. If all three play well, like they did vs. MSU, they'll probably win.
3. When these teams met earlier in the season, IU blew a 13-point halftime lead, eventually losing 60-55. Petteway had 18 for the Huskers, and three other players scored in double figures. What was the difference in that game, and what do the Huskers need to do to win the rematch in Assembly Hall?
Well, I haven't see much of Indiana since that trip into Pinnacle Bank Arena, but it's going to be imparative that the Huskers find a way to neutralized Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey. I'd expect Sheehey will want to go out with a good performance on senior night. That's going to be a challenge. Despite winning 8 of 10, the past two for the Huskers haven't been stellar. When they've lost on the road, they've usually started poorly. They've been able to overcome that a couple of times at home, but not on the road, where it tends to snowball. The times they've won on the road, they've been able to avoid that or even start fast themselves. They know what's on the table for them if they can win in Bloomington, how they handle that will likely determine how well they play.
4. Coach Tim Miles has made a name for himself by tweeting during halftime of games this year. What is the backstory behind the halftime tweets?
The story goes (as I understand it...) that when he was back at Colorado St. his media relations guy thought it would be a good idea to start embracing social media. He thought it was a good idea and said he'd jump into one of them, he didn't have time for everything, so they decided to go the twitter route. How the tweeting thing at halftime came about, I'm not sure what the whole evolution of that was, but it became his thing at CSU and when he took the job at Nebraska, it came with him. Most of the rest of the staff really embraces Twitter and can often be heard on radio shows throughout the state hyping up the program. These guys have the marketing thing down and it's working.
5. Speaking of Miles, I'm guessing his name will come up for any potential coaching vacancies in the college ranks this offseason. Of the teams that may be in the market for a new coach (Stanford, Wake Forest, and Boston College come to mind), is there a situation that Miles may leave for, or do you expect him to be coaching at Nebraska for a while?
None of those jobs would scare me. He's a midwestern guy and has been on record more than once that his dream was always to coach in the Big Ten. We'll, he's got that now. I'd be more concerned if the Michigan State or Ohio State or ... Indiana job came open. Any of those vacancies would terrify me. With all the amenities that NU has added to his arsenal, if they pay him like an elite coach, I think he could be here for a long time. A job on the coast doesn't scare me, though, especially not to a bottom feeder that's basically Nebraska circa 2011 with fewer toys to sell recruits with. The administration has given him everything any coach could ask for and more. I hope I don't come to eat those words.
6. This is the first year that the Huskers have played at Pinnacle Bank Arena. What is the general consensus on the new arena?
It's spectacular in just about every way. I could pick nits on a couple of things, but by and large, it's been a slam dunk hit. It helps that the team has played well there, too.
7. I think Bo Pelini can be compared to Tom Crean, in that he is the third guy to try and replace a legendary coach at his school, has faced high expectations from a restless fanbase, but has struggled to close seasons out on a high note. While Crean seems to have some security for the next couple years, I was somewhat surprised Pelini kept his job after last season. How do fans feel about Pelini as he enters his seventh year in Lincoln?
Depends on who you ask. It's split down the middle. It's more contentious than any political debate you find. I don't know anyone that didn't think he'd be back after the Iowa debacle the day after Thanksgiving and he emptied the chamber in the post game press conference. Rumors abound about what went on behind the scenes, but ultimately he's still here. Another year like that and I'd imagine it'll be difficult for him to keep his job.
8. Indiana baseball made the College World Series last year and defeated Nebraska in the B1G Baseball championships. With the B1G championships coming to Omaha this year, will the Huskers have a chance to avenge this loss in front of what could basically be a home crowd?
I was genuinely disappointed when Indiana and the Huskers did not end up on the schedule. I think both teams, by the end of the year, will have a shot at getting to the Super Regionals. Those teams need to face each other in the regular season. They just have to. For that not to happen is really disappointing. The Huskers had no one to blame for not getting to a regional last year but themselves, they were playing really well when that season came to a close but their slow start really did them in. I think a lot of people are looking forward to Omaha and seeing those two teams match up. I know I am. Hopefully it will be in the finals. That would make for a fun atmosphere.
9. Nebraska has been in the B1G for three years now, but will seem like a veteran when Maryland and Rutgers move into the conference next fall. How do Husker fans feel about the conference transition, now that they've had a few years to get used to it?
For the most part, I think most are okay with it. I don't think it's been the rip-roaring success everyone was hoping it would be, but it's been good for the university as a whole, even though I don't think it's been as smooth of a transition as most were hoping it would be.
10. Game prediction time - this one is pivotal for both teams' NCAA Tourney chances. Who you got?
Well, as I mentioned before, I think you'll get a pretty good indication of what type of game this will be pretty early on. If the Huskers jump out quickly or even just play even, I think this will be a game that goes down to the wire. Both teams have a lot at stake, I expect both teams to play like it. I could see either team folding under that, though. But I don't think they will. I expect both will come out throwing (figurative) haymakers. It will just depend on whether or not either team can land any. If the Hoosiers do, and jump to even a 7-2 lead, it spell a long night for the Huskers. For a prediction, I'm taking my guys. I say they seize the opportunity and come up with perhaps the biggest win in a 15 years. I say it'd be bigger than the MSU game because winning at Sparty made this opportunity possible (I hope that makes sense...). I think they embrace the opportunity and come away with the win in what goes down as one of the games of the year in the Big Ten. Huskers: 71 Hoosiers: 70
(Though, an 20 point IU win wouldn't shock me...sadly)
Now that I'm on the blacklist of every Hoosier fan, thanks for having me. Look forward to doing it again.
Thanks again, David! I look forward to that 20 point IU win.