It’s rivalry Saturday in Omaha and the ever-important bragging rights are on the line when the Nebraska Cornhuskers visit the Creighton Blue Jays at the CHI Health Center.
TV schedule: Saturday, December 7, 2:30 pm ET. FS1
Arena: CHI Health Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska
These are two programs that are in completely different places. For the Huskers, it’s a complete transition. 13 of the 14 players on the roster are brand new to this rivalry and the only returning Nebraska player, Thorir Thorbjarnarson didn’t play much in last year’s game which the Big Red won going away.
For the Jays, it’s an established program under Greg McDermott that returns pretty much everybody from last year. This offense is a 3-headed monster with Marcus Zegarowski, Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock. Alexander drains 47 percent of his shots from long-range and Ballock isn’t far behind at 45 percent. As a team, the Jays shoot 37 percent from downtown which is not uncommon for a Greg McDermott team.
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Nebraska shots just 33 percent from deep, but holds opponents to a stellar 29 percent from three-point range, and opponents shoot 33 percent from deep against the Blue Jays.
The Huskers are led by Cam Mack and Dachon Burke offensively, both averaging 12.4 points per game. Haanif Cheatham also pitches in 12 per game. Neither team shoots free throws particularly well, with the Huskers at 56.3 percent and Creighton at 65.5 percent.
Coach Fred Hoiberg will get his first taste of the interstate rivalry, which has been owned by Creighton in recent years sans 2018. However, Hoiberg has faced Creighton before, back when he was the head coach at Iowa State. Much like this year, that was his first year manning the bench for the Cyclones. However, it was also McDermott’s first year running the bench for the Blue Jays. McDermott has only lost to the Huskers twice in nine tries.
Unfortunately for Hoiberg and the Huskers, all of the key players from that team are gone. Experience and home court will win out here, and the Jays should be able to pull away relatively easy in the second half.
Prediction: Creighton 85, Nebraska 66