For the first time in 53 years, the Nebraska Huskers basketball team beat Michigan. A rowdy crowd at Pinnacle Bank Arena rose to their feet after routing a ranked Wolverines team by 20 points Thursday night. A lot of pregame focus was last year’s game in Lincoln, when Michigan handed Nebraska basketball their worst home loss in program history, beating the Huskers by 36 points. Now a year later, the Huskers got the revenge they’ve been looking for.
Thursday night was the best game I’ve seen the Huskers play this season. Shooting 55 percent from the field, which included 45 percent from beyond the arc. What’s also impressive is Michigan’s defense ranked sixteenth for defensive points allowed, only allowing 62.8 points per game. The Huskers would break that norm, scoring 72 Thursday. Four of the five starters for Nebraska scored double digits, with James Palmer Jr. leading the way with 19. Isaiah Roby contributed 14, with Isaac Copeland right behind him scoring 13. They also looked very efficient on defense, holding Michigan forward Moe Wagner to only two points, and seven rebounds. At the end of the first half, Nebraska held Michigan scoreless for nearly seven minutes, and missing 14 of their last 16 shots of the half.
The road ahead for this Nebraska team will continue to get tougher. With three games next week, including two on the road, the win over the Wolverines should give the Huskers some momentum. This next week will be a true test for what this team is all about. On Monday, Nebraska will go to Columbus, Ohio to play the No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes. A quick turnaround, they then head to New Jersey to play a tough Rutgers team before returning to Lincoln to host the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Going into the season, the media picked the Huskers to finish in the bottom four of the Big Ten. Now, eight games into conference play, the Huskers sit at fifth in the Big Ten, at 5-3. Before beating Michigan on Thursday night, the Huskers needed a quality win on their resume. During the B1G-ACC Challenge at the beginning of the season, they also defeated a tough Boston College team in Lincoln, which is now turning out to be a better win as the season goes on. Boston College later defeated at the time, No. 1 Duke at home. With two tough losses to ranked Kansas and Creighton, the Huskers win over No. 23 Michigan is huge for their postseason resume.
With 10 games remaining in the regular season for Nebraska, before they head to Madison Square Garden for the B1G Tournament, a lot is at stake with their remaining schedule. Joe Lunardi has five Big Ten teams in the NCAA Tournament as of January 18. Three teams on the outside looking in that many analysts have are; Maryland, Penn State, and Nebraska. Nebraska hosts both Maryland and Penn State at the end of the regular season, along with Rutgers and Indiana. If the Huskers can take eight of their last ten games, and win twice in the Big Ten Tournament, I don’t see why the selection committee can leave out this dangerous team come March. Nebraska has the ability to score 70 or 80 points a night, and can shut down teams like Michigan in a tournament game. Tim Miles and his squad control their own destiny, and it will be fun to watch them when they play like they did Thursday night.