Heading into conference play, Nebraska was my darkhorse pick to make the NCAA Tournament. Neither the best nor the worst prediciton I've ever made (though tending toward the latter so far), there's a better-than-zero chance that the Cornhuskers will use their opportunity tonight to make me look (temporarily) slightly less foolish than normal. My optimism regarding Nebraska was based almost entirely on two things: playing the Big 12 North schedule and shooting 65 eFG% or higher in five of their 12 non-conference games.
Nebraska has not been able to approach such feats of shooting against Big 12 competition. They've peaked at 55 eFG% in their home games against Colorado and Texas and are just shooting 50.2 eFG% in conference play as a whole. On any given night, they're still dangerous as is any team with one good post player (Aleks Maric) and a desire to take about 45% of their field goal attempts from behind the arc.
NEBRASKA OFFENSE v. KANSAS DEFENSE
On the other side of the ball, Nebraska has forced each of their Big 12 opponents to take at least 40% of their own field goal attempts from three-point range. On the season, Kansas uses but 26.6% of their field goal attempts on three-pointers (making 38.4%). In conference play, they've further reduced their utilization of the three-point line, taking only 23.8% of their field goal attempts from there (making 46.5%).
KANSAS OFFENSE v. NEBRASKA DEFENSE
Bill Self picked a good spot to get on the big men about rebounding. Nebraska doesn't do much of it on either end of the court getting just 26.8% of possible offensive rebounds (21.2% in Big 12 play) and 67% of possible defensive rebounds (63.8% in Big 12 play). If the Jayhawks fail to show at least a superficial improvement on the glass it will be cause for serious concern.
Finally, Nebraska has slowed the pace of their games way down in Big 12 play. They played at 66.5 possessions per game against their non-conference slate. The fastest paced game they've played against a Big 12 team was a 61 possession barn-burner against Colorado (or, approximately 75% of the possessions Kansas had against Colorado). Obviously, Doc Sadler didn't/doesn't share my previous enthusiasm over his team's potential.
Prediction: Kansas 68 Nebraska 60