Nebraska vs. Auburn Odds and Picks: Bet Tigers to Roll on Saturday (Dec. 11)
Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Dylan Cardwell
- Nebraska and Auburn kick off the college basketball slate with a Power Six matchup on Saturday morning.
- The Tigers enter as big favorites, and there may be value on them against an inferior Cornhusker squad.
- Alex Hinton breaks down the game and shares his top betting pick below.
Nebraska vs. Auburn Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
Nebraska got its first taste of Big Ten play this season with a two-game stretch against Indiana and Michigan. The Huskers battled for a half against Indiana before falling 68-55. Tuesday was a different story as Nebraska was uncompetitive for most of the night and ran off its home floor by Michigan, 102-67. Now, basketball may be the least of its worries.
Head coach Fred Hoiberg announced that a viral infection has been spreading throughout his team. Two players were sent home with illnesses and two others had already tested positive for influenza A. Nebraska will also be without freshman forward Wilhelm Breidenbach due to a knee injury.
Auburn is 7-1 to begin the year and up to No. 18 in the AP poll. After a wild, double overtime loss to UConn in the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Tigers have ripped off four straight wins. The last three have all been by double digits. Will Auburn easily dispose of Nebraska as well?
Nebraska has been led by its backcourt, senior Alonzo Verge Jr. and freshman Bryce McGowens. Verge is averaging 16.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while McGowens is averaging 16.4 points and 6.8 rebounds. Both of them have to struggled shooting the three to begin the year. Verge is shooting 25% and McGowens is shooting just 22.2% from deep.
As a team, the Huskers are shooting just 25.4% beyond the arc, ranking 354th nationally. Nebraska makes up for it by getting to the foul line. The Huskers are 30th in fouls drawn per game and average 21.1 free throws as a team.
Forward Derrick Walker is averaging nine points and 5.7 rebounds per game. However, it would probably be a good idea to give him more attempts as the junior is shooting 78% from the field and 80% on twos.
Breidenbach was a top-100 recruit for the Huskers. He was already ruled out for Saturday and will be “out for a while,” according to Hoiberg. That will leave Nebraska shorthanded in the frontcourt with just two players standing 6-foot-9 or taller in the rotation.
Nebraska ranks 309th in scoring defense, allowing 75.3 points per game. However, that is partially a product of its pace as the Huskers rank 32nd in adjusted tempo. Nebraska is 103rd in adjusted defensive efficiency and 210th in defensive rating.
The Huskers’ lack of size hurts as it allows the third most total rebounds and second most offensive rebounds, and they’ve been outrebounded by 7.9 rebounds per game.
Auburn likes to get up and down and ranks 53rd in adjusted tempo. The Tigers are 28th in the nation in scoring and 19th in adjusted offensive efficiency. They’ve already cracked the 80-point barrier in five of its eight games this season.
Forward Jabari Smith has been as advertised so far. The heralded freshman is averaging 16.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He has also shown off his range this season and is shooting nearly 44% from three.
Guard K.D. Johnson is averaging 15.5 points and 2.8 steals per game while North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler is averaging 7.9 points and seven rebounds. Kessler has also made his presence felt on the defensive end and averages 3.4 blocks per game.
Auburn is third nationally in blocks, averaging 7.4 per game. The Tigers have four players averaging a block per game, including center Dylan Cardwell, who does it in just 11.8 minutes per game. Auburn forces its opponents into 16.4 turnovers per game, 10.1 off steals which is 17th nationally. The Tigers are 24th in adjusted efficiency.
Nebraska vs. Auburn Betting Pick
While it remains to be seen which Nebraska players will be out on Saturday, it will not change my pick. Nebraska shot 5-for-35 from three against Michigan. It may be due for a little shooting regression, but even if you take that game out, it is shooting just 27% from three on the year. Barring an abnormal shooting performance, I don’t foresee Nebraska being very competitive in this one.
Auburn outrebounds its opponents by four rebounds and it should control the glass against Nebraska. Auburn will have a big size advantage over the Huskers with Smith, Kessler, Jaylin Williams and Cardwell down low. Smith, Kessler, and Cardwell are all 6-foot-10 or taller and I expect a big game from Smith. Nebraska will not have an answer for him.
Auburn will also use its length to alter and challenge shots while its defensive pressure should lead to turnovers and fuel the fast break. I like Auburn to win this one big. I would hop on the line immediately in case the line starts to drastically shift towards Auburn once it becomes known who will be out for Nebraska.