Head Coach: Billy Wright
Location: Macomb, IL
Mascot: Colonel Rock (Live Bulldog), Rocky (Costumed Bulldog)
Last time out: Lost to Tennessee Martin
Shirt not to wear: Purple, Gold
Opening Line: Nebraska by 22.5
Player to watch: Kobe Webster
The 6'0" soph. PG dominates the Leatherneck's shot attempts (33.2% when on the court) though also leads the team in assists. Webster is a volume scorer averaging 19 ppg including dropping 24 points on Creighton.
Player to watch: Brandon Gilbeck
The 7'0" 235# Senior is Western Illinois' leading rebounder is also a prolific shotblocker and currently averaging 4.2 a game. His playing time can be limited by his ability to pick up fouls. Freshman Ben Pyle is a sharpshooter though has been losing
KenPom Helps explain the Roster
Along with Webster, Johnson is a prolific scorer and one of the better rebounders on the team. Ben Pyle is a sharp shooter but a defensive liability. CJ Duff has started every game his entire career at WIU though his sub-standard offensive stats probably has people wondering why. It wouldn't be surprising to see 6'5" Jeremiah Usiosefe take Pyle's spot in the starting lineup. The oft injured Usiosefe is capable of putting up double digits and scored 19 in his return to the lineup. Freshman Zion Young from Chicago Simeon was a big recruiting get for the Leathernecks though has struggled with his shot to start the season. Pacific transfer Keshon Montague is in the rotation but has been shaky thus far.
The Skinny: With Clemson looming on Monday the Huskers might overlook Western Illinois here but getting kicked in the teeth by Tech should keep everyone on alert. This is a pesky team that Creighton had trouble putting away that was very close to being 4-1 coming into this game. Offensively the Leathernecks are a perimeter team that should spend most of the day trying to hero ball against the best defense they'll see all year. Defensively Western Illinois will try and chase Nebraska off the 3pt line and funnel everything towards the shotblocking Gilbreck which is music to the ears of those who have disliked the Husker's shot selection. This seems like the type of game where James Palmer could get on track to the tune of 30 points.
Western Illinois doesn't crash the offensive boards nor do they generate much in terms of transition. They need to shoot well to win which is tough to imagine against this team. Look for Nebraska to attempt to put away this team early so they can get their bench players some minutes and save their starters for the upcoming gauntlet.
Prediction: Nebraska 86 - Western Illinois 64