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Power Rankings: Nebraska enters top 5 of Jon Crispin's list

By Jon Crispin, BTN men's basketball analyst, 49 mins ago
 
5. Nebraska (16-8, 7-4). I’m no expert on the quadrants, RPI, SOS and whatever else the committee looks at for the selection process in March. From what I see and what I know, this is a NCAA tournament team — a dangerous tourney team, at that. To ensure their presence in the brackets, the Huskers will have to finish strong, as there’s not a game left on the schedule against any team above them in the standings. Four of its final seven are at home, where Nebraska has one of the best homecourt advantages in the conference.
Last week: 6

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This is from a gambling perspective, daily blog from Dave Malinsky, a pro handicapper who is on Brent Musberger's Vegas Sports & Info Network on Sirius XM a couple of times a week:

https://www.sportsbookreview.com/forum/point-blank-david-malinsky/3453192-pb-1-29-tis-monday-before-super-bowl.html

 

Love listening to VSIN, these guys cover basketball with much more of an analytical emphasis than you ever see in local media.   

 

Item: Why haven’t the markets respected Nebraska

Had I not brought Tim Miles’ Cornhuskers here as a lead topic, I might have been able to win a bar bet of my own by predicting a question that would be in the first three asked in the comments thread – “are we supposed to be riding Nebraska again”. The Cornhuskers have become a meal ticket, starting with that win at Northwestern four weeks ago, and what has been remarkable through the stretch is that the value has stayed strong, in part because there has been consistent money against them.

So what happened once again, in the trading leading up to Nebraska/Wisconsin tonight? The host Badgers opened -2 at Pinnacle and a shopper can now take +4.5. It leads to what has been an on-going question: just who is it out there that doesn’t like this team, and why has that money been so defiant?

I have not been able to put my finger on it. There is a case to be made that two main contributions to the Nebraska success would have been difficult to anticipate: A. How good James Palmer has turned out to be; and B. How dramatically the defense has improved. That could have caught some market segments off-guard, but what is keeping them off of the track, now that enough games have been played to establish some realities?

Palmer only averaged 3.5 ppg as a sophomore with Miami in the ACC in 2016, before sitting out as a transfer last season, though learning the Miles playbook along the way. This season it has been 17.2 ppg, along with 4.3 rpg, and he is a legit candidate for Big 10 MVP by elevating to 19.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 3.0 apg in league play. Palmer’s impact may go beyond the numbers because he has been a missing link for the program, which has lacked a go-to player.

Let’s start with Miles, after Palmer scored 28 points vs. Iowa on Saturday: “I remember one possession late in the game. I’m like, ‘James, James, go get the ball and do something!’ He can make so many plays. The first half he had four assists right away. He’s willing to share the ball. But he also knows when to take over.”



5a6d52fc4d3f0.image.jpg?resize=1200%2C97


And from Iowa’s Fran McCaffery from the other side of that outcome: “He has been a go-to guy in our league. It’s hard to be that guy when you’re marked. And he is marked, and he’s still doing it. Let’s face it, he’s a hard cover. He dribbles it, he shoots it, he drives it, he gives it up. He’s not a selfish guy. He handles it like a guard, he posts like a big and he’s got a 3-point shot. But his length is what makes him so hard to guard.”

Now the key handicapping question. Has the presence of Palmer, and the fact that he helped the team get over the hump in terms of winning Big 10 games (7-4), instead of just coming close, allowed the role players to defend with more energy? The elevation of the quality of defense being played by the current cast, with most of the contributors in their third season, has been striking (these are Big 10 only trackings):

 

  Total D EFG% 2-Pt 3-Pt
2016 107.5 (9) 53.0 (10) 49.7 (9) 39.3 (13)
2017 108.6 (12) 53.2 (13) 47.7 (7) 42.5 (14)
2018 99.2 (4) 43.8 (2) 27.6 (1) 44.8 (3)


If those market segments fell behind the curve with Nebraska because they couldn’t anticipate that there is no fault. I still struggle to fully buy in to those defensive improvements because there is not a lot of size around the basket. But now we are more than midway through the conference schedule, and if the players believe in themselves that can be a formidable energy.

Do the Cornhuskers go into pocket again? Yes, at this price point, even though it is a daunting schedule challenge, only one preparation day and facing their fourth game on as many different courts over eight days. The simple truth is that they are better than the Badgers, who are starting two freshmen and potentially at a low-ebb in terms of confidence. Also note that Nebraska’s 63-59 win at Lincoln earlier was a bit more decisive than the final score can show, with this rather meaningful end-game sequence:


2.0275.png&h=100&w=100Brevin Pritzl made Three Point Jumper. Assisted by Brad Davison. 56 - 62
1.0158.png&h=100&w=100James Palmer Jr. Turnover. 56 - 62
1.0275.png&h=100&w=100Brad Davison made Three Point Jumper. 59 - 62
1.0275.png&h=100&w=100Foul on Ethan Happ. 59 - 62
1.0158.png&h=100&w=100Evan Taylor missed Free Throw. 59 - 62
1.0158.png&h=100&w=100Nebraska Deadball Team Rebound. 59 - 62
1.0158.png&h=100&w=100Evan Taylor made Free Throw. 59 - 63
0.0158.png&h=100&w=100End of Game 59 - 63

Yes, that all happened in two seconds. Tonight’s schedule setting would not have worked for me at +2, and there would have only been a slight chime at +3. But at +4 the markets have caused the bell to ring one more time.

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Nebraska

Look who’s suddenly fourth in the Big Ten, crowding in on Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan State. The team that finished tied for 12th last season. The 17-8 Cornhuskers just played four conference games in eight days, won three of them, and are now 8-4 in the league – their best start in 19 years. The seven January wins are the most since 1980. They outscored Wisconsin 30-8 in the last 10 minutes to come from 11 points down and win in Madison, which they hadn’t done in 27 years....

 

https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/article/2018-02-01/college-basketball-8-under-radar-teams-watch-march-approaches

 

 

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https://sports.yahoo.com/forde-minutes-biggest-surprises-college-basketball-season-053906894.html

 

 

FIVE QUESTIONS WITH A COACH

The Minutes caught up with Tim Miles (37) of Nebraska this week and got his thoughts on five pressing topics.

Q: What has been the response to your team’s “Hate Will Never Win” statement over the weekend?

A: We’ve had a massive outpouring of support and acceptance that our guys decided to stand out and stand up for something. I’m very proud of them for doing that. … This isn’t a political message. This is, “Let’s take a stand against racism, prejudice and hate.”

Q: What does it feel like to be 19-8 overall, 10-4 and in fourth place in the Big Ten, and yet very much on the NCAA bubble?

A: We caught a tough break with our schedule. Most of our Quadrant 1 games were on the road and against high-level Quadrant 1 teams (losses to Michigan State, Creighton, Purdue and Ohio State). When we beat Minnesota (Dec. 5), they were a Top 15 team with Reggie Lynch and Amir Coffey (since out). Now we don’t get much credit for that win. All we can do is keep winning and take care of our bid ourselves. You can’t go fanatical about something that has nothing to do with you.

Q. After three straight losing seasons and heavy player turnover, how have you righted the ship this year?

A. We have talent. Last year we had three guys sitting out who are now starters. We had some guys leave and it created quite a stir, but at the same time it galvanized the guys who stayed. I think it made them more committed to Nebraska and to their coach and to each other.

Q. You’ve stopped the in-game tweets but now are regularly tweeting pictures of your dog. What’s up with that transition?

A. When your career’s looking down the wrong end of the barrel, you need somebody with you. My wife and kids are with me, but there’s nothing better than Sammy, my yellow lab. When I’m watching tape at night, he’s right there with me, with his wet nose. It’s gross, but it’s adorable in its own way.

Q. You went from the low of a blowout loss for your beloved Minnesota Vikings to the high of a Twitter conversation with Rob Riggle. Walk us through those emotions.

A. The Vikings thing was, ‘This cannot be happening again.’ I went through it all again: the Raiders, Jack Tatum, Fred Biletnikoff, beating us in the Super Bowl; total hatred for [Dallas receiver] Drew Pearson pushing off and not being called for it in Met Stadium; it brought back a flood of devastating feelings. But then we’re in Minneapolis at the hotel and I find Rob Riggle’s hanging bag in my room (two days after the Super Bowl) … and I decided to tweet the picture to him. I think it’s pretty cool that he tweeted back.

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Again, Husker stuff from a professional handicapper's (Dave Malinsky--frequent guest on Sirius Radio's VSIN Network) perspective at SBR.com  If the unseemly sports betting leaves a sour taste for you Cotton Mathers types out there, stay for some of the analysis.  It is curious to me that some folks, who ostensibly would be in a position to evaluate things with an analytical eye, keep backing up the wagon to play AGAINST Nebraska.  I assume the oppo money would be based on much more than just the relatively weak perception of Nebraska's basketball program over the years.    

 

In the Sights, Tuesday NCAA…

I have gone to the well with Nebraska about as much as any team in a single-season in recent memory, and the Cornhuskers have both been lead topics and an almost constant part of the discussion threads on every one of their recent game days. I was mystified for weeks at why there was money against Tim Miles and his team in just about every Big 10 game, some of the moves substantial, and have just kept riding them out. The current trading is allowing for -1.5 to be put into pocket against Maryland, and that means yet one more time behind #524 Nebraska (7:00 Eastern).

The Cornhuskers have simply been better than the Terrapins, and now that we are deep into the conference schedule, using the Big 10 only base count tells a tale:

 

Net PPP 100  
Maryland -2.4
Nebraska +5.4


Yet tonight’s line is below where the home court advantage would project, despite the fact that Nebraska is also positioned to play well – this is only the third game in 15 days, and sandwiched between Rutgers and Illinois there is nothing preventing a team building in confidence from having their full focus on Maryland.

The Terrapins have managed to gut out a 6-8 in league play despite being short-handed, but I believe that takes a toll down the stretch – Anthony Cowan has played 547 of a possible 565 minutes in Big 10 games, and for Kevin Huerter it has been 499 and Darryl Morsell 472. They have lost their last six Big 10 road trips, and in what is becoming an electric atmosphere in Lincoln they could play well tonight and still lose by a couple of baskets.

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7 hours ago, wordyginters said:

Again, Husker stuff from a professional handicapper's (Dave Malinsky--frequent guest on Sirius Radio's VSIN Network) perspective at SBR.com  If the unseemly sports betting leaves a sour taste for you Cotton Mathers types out there, stay for some of the analysis.  It is curious to me that some folks, who ostensibly would be in a position to evaluate things with an analytical eye, keep backing up the wagon to play AGAINST Nebraska.  I assume the oppo money would be based on much more than just the relatively weak perception of Nebraska's basketball program over the years.    

 

In the Sights, Tuesday NCAA…

I have gone to the well with Nebraska about as much as any team in a single-season in recent memory, and the Cornhuskers have both been lead topics and an almost constant part of the discussion threads on every one of their recent game days. I was mystified for weeks at why there was money against Tim Miles and his team in just about every Big 10 game, some of the moves substantial, and have just kept riding them out. The current trading is allowing for -1.5 to be put into pocket against Maryland, and that means yet one more time behind #524 Nebraska (7:00 Eastern).

The Cornhuskers have simply been better than the Terrapins, and now that we are deep into the conference schedule, using the Big 10 only base count tells a tale:

 

Net PPP 100  
Maryland -2.4
Nebraska +5.4


Yet tonight’s line is below where the home court advantage would project, despite the fact that Nebraska is also positioned to play well – this is only the third game in 15 days, and sandwiched between Rutgers and Illinois there is nothing preventing a team building in confidence from having their full focus on Maryland.

The Terrapins have managed to gut out a 6-8 in league play despite being short-handed, but I believe that takes a toll down the stretch – Anthony Cowan has played 547 of a possible 565 minutes in Big 10 games, and for Kevin Huerter it has been 499 and Darryl Morsell 472. They have lost their last six Big 10 road trips, and in what is becoming an electric atmosphere in Lincoln they could play well tonight and still lose by a couple of baskets.

Dude pretty much nailed it...might be worth a following a little more closely!

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1 hour ago, demone said:

Dude pretty much nailed it...might be worth a following a little more closely!

I don't gamble for reals, but I enjoy following sports from a gambling perspective, a lot of the people I hear on VSIN have much more sophisticated takes that what you typically hear on sports radio.  I've been following Malinsky since the beginning of the football season, and now through hoops.  He's an interesting cat, big on analytics and "grading" games to sort out the noise in some stats, attempting to get at the truth.  For example, minimizing the weight of garbage time TDs in football.  He also reads a lot into the perceived mental state of teams, based off of what he gleans from reading local sources, etc.  Not your typical meathead sports shouter.  He's certainly not infallible, from my limited observation his analysis based off of canny use of statistics has been superior to his reading the tea leaves from a coaches press conference in the local paper, when it comes to handicapping.  It been kind of shocking to see him running with the Huskers all year.  And fun to see/hear them highlighted in his write ups.  I guess I appreciate any sports coverage that comes from the margins so to speak, and strikes me as a notch above some of the typically BS that is everywhere.  A bit of a diamond in the rough thing.  And yeah, they cover again.  Kind of a fortunate cover, but those count just as much as the bad beats.  

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So . . . Shatel's headline this a.m. references 20 wins and declares, "but Miles should be safe."  

I'm probably alone on this, but that headline struck me as incredibly tone-deaf.  There are no Huskers, anywhere, this morning pondering to themselves: "Is Miles safe yet?"  Not one.  Those musing simply aren't happening.

So . . . when I read that headline, I kinda looked in disbelief and wondered, "Who the heck do you think your audience is?"  Those wearing blue is, apparently, the answer.  Because it certainly isn't those wearing red! 

Edited by Swan88

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9 hours ago, Swan88 said:

So . . . Shatel's headline this a.m. references 20 wins and declares, "but Miles should be safe."  

I'm probably alone on this, but that headline struck me as incredibly tone-deaf.  There are no Huskers, anywhere, this morning pondering to themselves: "Is Miles safe yet?"  Not one.  Those musing simply aren't happening.

So . . . when I read that headline, I kinda looked in disbelief and wondered, "Who the heck do you think your audience is?"  Those wearing blue is, apparently, the answer.  Because it certainly isn't those wearing red! 

 

Just because Tom Shatel thinks he looks good in a newsboy cap -- he doesn't -- don't accidentally confuse him with a journalist.  He should be delivering those newspapers instead of writing them.

 

Honestly, Shatel would make a better plus-sized hat model than a sportswriter...

 

Shatel_Tom2.jpg

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