If you had Nebraska winning their first two Big Ten Conference games on the road against Indiana and Maryland you should go buy a lottery ticket right now.
The Huskers (8-6, 2-0 BIG) are doing all of this without former star guard Andrew White who transferred to Syracuse for his graduate year.
Looks like Tim Miles and his team are getting the last laugh.
So with a home loss to Gardner-Webb and a narrow five point victory over Southern in Lincoln as well, how are the Huskers knocking off high-respected teams such as Indiana and Maryland?
Five of Nebraska’s six losses come to teams that are currently ranked in the top 32 according to KenPom. UCLA (13), Virginia Tech (32), Clemson (21), Creighton (23), and Kansas (5). Although they show up as losses in the record column, those are the kind of games you want to play in non-conference to get your team ready for the conference grind especially in a conference like the Big Ten.
Along with the roads wins against Maryland and Indiana, the Huskers also hold an impressive win against Dayton. With that being said, Nebraska has three wins against top 60 KenPom teams and none of them were on their home floor.
Even with the loss of White, Tim Miles somehow has brought together his team, who many experts believed were going to be a laughing stock in the BIG Ten this year, to now being labeled as one of the surprise teams in the early BIG Ten season.
The main reason has been the backcourt duo of senior Tai Webster and sophomore Glynn Watson.
Against Indiana, Webster and Watson combined for 47 of their team’s 87 points and whenever one wasn’t hitting their shots, the other would step up and not let the Hoosiers have any sort of life.
Sophomore forward Ed Morrow was also a huge factor in that game. Not known as one of the elite big men in the BIG Ten, Morrow defiantly outplayed IU’s Thomas Bryant and finished with 12 points and 10 boards. The biggest play of the game was when Nebraska hoisted up a shot in the final minute up one and Morrow outmuscled Bryant to grab the offensive rebound and layed it back in to put the Huskers up three. But in the end, you have to give the most credit to Webster and Watson as they often times did the heavy lifting for their team for most of the game.
Much of the same happened in the Maryland game. Webster and Watson combined for 35 of the Husker’s 67 points and were the main factors in the 14-0 run to end the game which ultimately helped them squeak out a two point win in College Park.
The Huskers return home for their next conference match-up against Iowa on Thursday and then an emerging Northwestern team will make an appearance in Lincoln next Sunday.
It’ll be interesting to see how Tim Miles’ team responds to these two surprising victories. Nebraska will not and should not be taken lightly by any team. This team does not look at themselves as underdogs, they act and play as if they are one of the best teams in the country and can beat you no matter how many All Americans you have on your roster.
While I didn’t see Nebraska as a real threat in the BIG Ten coming into the season, the Huskers have caught my attention and college basketball fans alike and will be intriguing to see if they can keep up this level of play on consistent basis throughout the year.