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Wisconsin men’s basketball season preview: Nebraska

The Huskers have improved the talent level in Lincoln but this team is still a ways away from competing for an NCAA Tournament bid.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Nebraska
Trey McGowens is the leading returning scorer for the Huskers.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Team: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Location: Lincoln, Neb.
Conference: Big Ten
Head coach: Fred Hoiberg (two seasons, 14-45)
2020-2021 record: 7-20 overall, 3-16 B1G

Top returning players: 6-foot-4, G, Trey McGowens (10.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.3 apg); 6-foot-9, F, Lat Mayen (8.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 48 made three pointers); 6-foot-0, G, Kobe Webster (8.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 38.0 3P%)

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Nebraska
Lat Mayen made the most threes of any Husker last season.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Top newcomers: 6-foot-6, G, 5-star Bryce McGowens (Pendelton, S.C.), ranked No. 28 player overall; 6-foot-9, F, 4-star Wilhelm Breidenbach (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) ranked No. 102 player overall; 7-foot-0, F/C, 3-star Oleg Kojenets (Kaunas, Lithuania), ranked No. 214 player overall; 6-foot-3, G, Alonzo Verge, Jr. (14.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.8 apg) transfer from Arizona State

2020-2021 review: Look, Nebraska stinks at men’s basketball and finished last in the Big Ten last season but...they had an insanely difficult schedule. In fact, KenPom ranked it as the No. 4 most difficult schedule in the country. Sure, not getting to play Nebraska makes the SOS more difficult than other B1G teams, but still. A lot of teams would’ve struggled with the Huskers’ slate last year.

Teddy Allen led the team in scoring with 16.5 ppg, but elected to transfer after the season and 6-foot-9 point guard Dalano Banton, who led the team with 3.9 apg, surprisingly kept his name in the NBA Draft and then, even more surprisingly, was drafted in the second round by the Toronto Raptors and THEN, the most surprising thing, he made the team and is a solid bench contributor!

The Huskers only beat Penn State, Minnesota and Rutgers in conference last year and were a bad shooting, rebounding and defending team. As is tradition with the Hoiberg led Huskers, the roster will look completely different this year as there are 10 new players on the roster. After looking at the stats from last year, it’s probably a good thing that there isn’t too much continuity from last season.

2021-2022 preview: The biggest thing to happen to Nebraska basketball in forever (?) is the fact that Bryce McGowens decided to join his older brother Trey in Lincoln to play hoops. Bryce is a 5-star recruit, the first one in Huskers history, and brings athleticism and shooting to a team that is desperately in need of both.

Nebraska also has a fleet of large bodies that they can try out down low, as well as on the perimeter since players like Mayen and Breidenbach can stroke it from deep while being 6-foot-9 or taller.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa
Kobe Webster is not afraid to let it fly from deep and he has made 230 threes in his career.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Webster will provide some senior leadership and shooting from the guard position and newcomers Alonzo Verge, Jr. (transfer from Arizona State), C.J. Wilcher (transfer from Xavier) and Keon Edwards (transfer from DePaul) will provide help to the McGowens brothers.

Nebraska will not be good again this season, but they also shouldn’t finish in last place again either. Things might be ever so slightly trending upwards for Hoiberg’s crew.

Games versus Wisconsin:

Game No. 1: Tuesday, Jan. 25, Lincoln, Neb., Pinnacle Bank Arena, BTN, 8 p.m. CT

Game No. 2: Sunday, Mar. 6, Madison, Wis., Kohl Center, BTN, 1 p.m. CT