2014 Nebraska Cornhuskers Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 11/3/2014
Nebraska basketball was completely off the map a couple years ago. The Cornhuskers made the move to the Big Ten, which is arguably the best basketball conference in the nation, and many saw them as a perennial cellar dweller. The Cornhuskers struggled in their first year in the conference, but last year was a special season for the Cornhuskers basketball team. The renaissance that is underway in Lincoln, Nebraska, is truly remarkable.
Tim Miles won the Big Ten Coach of the Year award as well as the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award last year, and he was absolutely deserving of those accolades. Nebraska lost only one game all year at their new home court, and the Cornhuskers picked up road wins at Michigan State and Wisconsin. Those are the two toughest places to play in the Big Ten, and they are two of the toughest places to play anywhere in the nation.
Nebraska finished fourth in the Big Ten last year, and that was a major accomplishment considering the depth and strength of the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers won 19 games a year ago, and they made it to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 11 seed. Nebraska lost in their first game in the Big Dance, but it was a great season that virtually nobody saw coming. Expectations are rising as Miles changes the culture and gets the team and the whole community to buy in to his program.
2014 Nebraska Key Losses and Additions
Nebraska loses shooting guard Ray Gallegos. Gallegos sank 54 3-point shots last year, and he was the team's best outside shooter. Deverell Biggs was the Cornhuskers third-leading scorer last year, but he was kicked off the team in January after several off-the-court problems. Miles gained respect from a lot of the community by getting rid of Biggs. All in all, Nebraska didn't lose all that much production from last year's team.
The Cornhuskers got a key transfer from Georgetown in senior center Moses Abraham (formerly Moses Ayegba). He has a 7-foot-4 wingspan, and Abraham can be the defensive presence on the inside that Nebraska needs. Miles said he expects Abraham to be the team's defensive anchor. Tarin Smith will push for playing time right away at the point guard spot. Smith was coached by Bobby Hurley in high school, and he's seen as an ultra-savvy, high-IQ type of player. Power forward Jake Hammond is a low-post banger who has plenty of length to alter shots on the defensive end.
2014 Nebraska Backcourt
Tai Webster will start the season at point guard. Webster would likely fit best into the system as a shooting guard in the long run, but while Smith is being acclimated into the system slowly, Webster will play more at point guard early in the year. Shavon Shields came on in a big way late last year, and I think he was one of the biggest reasons for the Cornhuskers strong finish to the regular season. He averaged 7.8 points per game through the early season, but he scored 15 points per game in the team's last 15 games. David Rivers will likely start at the wing, but he'll see time in the backcourt as well. Coach Miles describes Rivers as the ultimate selfless player who just wants to help his team win basketball games. Miles wants more from Rivers on the glass this season. Benny Parker gives the team some extra depth at the point guard spot. Parker is quick, but he needs to develop his shot.
2014 Nebraska Frontcourt
Nebraska's frontcourt depth was questionable to start with, and in the offseason Leslee Smith tore his ACL. His senior season is in jeopardy. Smith has been a solid midrange shooter, and he has a big physical body to defend in the post. If he can't play this year, he'll definitely be missed. Terran Petteway was the heart and soul of this Cornhuskers team last year from the power forward spot. He averaged 18.1 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game last year. He put on almost 20 pounds in the offseason to bulk up and get more strength for banging in the post. Miles said, "Nobody works as hard on our team." Petteway got to the line 204 times last year and made an impressive 81.9 percent from the charity stripe. He's a potential Big Ten Player of the Year. Walter Pitchford starts at center for Nebraska. Pitchford is a guy who takes most of his shots from the outside. Coach Miles wants to see him become a more complete player this year. Depth is an issue for Nebraska in the frontcourt.
2014 Nebraska Cornhuskers Futures Odds
Nebraska is a Top 25 team coming into the season, but the oddsmakers aren't buying at all on their chances of making a deep postseason run. Bovada lists the Cornhuskers at 100/1 to win the NCAA Championship. BetOnline lists Nebraska at +7,000.
2014 Nebraska Cornhuskers Predictions and NCAA Basketball Picks
Miles has proven himself as a tremendous coach. The job he did with this team last year was nothing short of amazing. Nebraska should be even better this year. Still, their lack of depth does keep them from being a true title contender. Going into this season, Nebraska has never won an NCAA Tournament game (0-7 all-time in the tournament). I think this Cornhuskers team wins a tournament game to make history for the program.
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