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What to watch for: USF vs. Nebraska

USF looks to close out the Cayman Islands Classic tournament with a win when they face Nebraska in today’s third-place game.

The Bulls made just eight field goals in the second half during a 65-45 semifinal loss to New Mexico State yesterday. Laquincy Rideau had 13 points and Michael Durr added six points, six rebounds and a career-high four blocks.

Nebraska saw its three-game win streak snapped by George Mason 85-66 in the other semifinal.

Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Cam Mack attempts a layup in front of a Doane University player at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Cam Mack attempts a layup in front of a Doane University player at Pinnacle Bank Arena. (Associated Press)

RunningTheBulls.com has your quick facts and what to watch for against Nebraska:

Quick Facts

Matchup: Nebraska (3-3) vs. USF (3-3)

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 27

Time: 5:00 p.m. ET

Location: Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands | John Gray Gymnasium

Watch: FLOHOOPS (subscription required)

Radio: Bulls Unlimited

History: This will be the third meeting between Nebraska and USF. The series is tied 1-1.

The Opponent: When Nebraska hired head coach Fred Hoiberg eight months ago he almost did a complete overhaul of the program’s roster. The Cornhuskers return one player, Thorir Thorbjarnarson, and just 50 points from last season while adding 14 newcomers.

Most of Nebraska’s issues this season are related to below average shot making (sound familiar). In each of the Cornhuskers losses they have averaged 35.1 percent from the field.

Nebraska wants to run, even after opponents made baskets. The Cornhuskers have the No. 44 ranked adjusted tempo in the Nation. In comparison, USF is ranked No. 230. Nebraska does this by pushing the dribble and by throwing the ball ahead. In the games we scouted they had more than ten possessions each game with three dribbles or less. Some with zero dribbles. Their average possession length is 15-seconds which ranks No. 25 in the Nation. Nebraska averages 73.5 possessions per game which is currently tops among Big Ten (B1G) teams.

The Cornhuskers are an excellent transition team averaging 1.32 points per transition possession which ranks in the 97th percentile nationally.

In their two games in the Cayman Islands Classic Nebraska has gone with a four guard lineup with a 6-foot-9, 260-pound center. We expect to see that lineup today when they take the court against the Bulls.

Salt Lake C.C. transfer point guard Cam Mack is electric in the open court. He is an inconsistent three-point shooter (27.3 percent) but ranks in top-15 in the B1G in scoring and top five in assists. Mack is tough to guard because he is very quick off the bounce. If he is making jump shots he can become a nightmarish defensive assignment.

The strength of Nebraska’s offense is arguably its wings – Dachon Burke, Haanif Cheatham and Jervay Green. They get out in transition, run HARD and try to get to the cup to score. This does, however, impact the Cornhuskers rebounding. Nebraska is ranked No. 346 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage and are only slightly better (No. 337) in offensive rebounding percentage.

Defensively Nebraska is good but not great. They are primarily a man-to-man defensive team that is active in passing lanes and traps the low post. They have used zone less than 15 percent of the time but when they do it is a compact 2-3 zone.

Prediction

USF 68 Nebraska 67

To win this game USF must limit its turnovers, play great transition defense to slow down Nebraska and make them play a half-court game, win the rebounding battle by +8 or more and make shots. Due to Nebraska’s up-tempo offense, Brian Gregory may need to go to his USF bench early. They need to step up today.