Friday College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: Iowa vs. Nebraska Betting Preview
Getty Images. Pictured: Iowa forward Keegan Murray #15 (left); Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Bryce McGowens #5
- Nebraska hosts Iowa for what should be a fast-paced showdown.
- The Hawkeyes have been surging, but it might be time to sell high on a team that is coming off big wins. Can the Cornhuskers keep it within single digits?
- Tanner McGrath answers that question below and gives his two picks for the game.
Iowa vs. Nebraska Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The two fastest-paced teams in the Big Ten meet for this Friday night affair. Based on that, Iowa vs. Nebraska shouldn’t disappoint.
If only Nebraska was competitive. The Cornhuskers have fallen to 1-15 in Big Ten play this season, with their only win coming at home against Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Iowa is a dark horse to win the conference tournament. The Hawkeyes have won five of their last six games on the back of an electric offense.
But can that offense cover a double-digit spread on the road against a conference opponent?
This offense can GO.
Iowa is now top five in the nation in offensive efficiency and leads the Big Ten in points per game. In a conference that generally relies on defensive prowess, Fran McCaffery’s teams are a breath of fresh air.
Iowa relies on a veteran backcourt to run an up-tempo offense while limiting mistakes. Iowa is in the top 50 nationally in tempo and leads the country in offensive turnover rate. Joe Toussaint and Jordan Bohannon excel in that role.
But that shouldn’t be surprising, since Bohannon has been playing in Iowa since the Obama administration.
But the key for Iowa is an athletic big man with dominant post moves and an ability to create mismatches in transition. Keegan Murray has stepped into Luka Garza’s role and performed above anyone’s expectations.
Brilliant play sequencing from Fran McCaffery and Iowa vs. OSU
First play: Iowa runs screens on each block, then Keegan Murray flashes to the top of the key for a middle iso
Next play: the Iowa players reject the screens, Murray fakes the middle iso and cuts backdoor for a lob pic.twitter.com/7N2Cy8Q2qN
— Eric Shapiro (@eric_shap) February 21, 2022
Murray is averaging a whopping 23.5 points per game on a ridiculous 61.8 eFG%. He currently has a 130 ORtg, which Garza never touched in his historic Iowa career.
The Iowa offense hasn’t lost a step. But can the defense perform well enough to put together a sustained run in March?
The Iowa defense has been more active than in recent seasons. The Hawkeyes currently pace the Big Ten in defensive turnover rate and are top 50 in block rate.
Plus, it might not matter. Iowa just blitzed Ohio State and Michigan State in back-to-back games, winning by double digits both times. Murray scored a combined 52 points in the wins — the defense didn’t matter.
Fred Hoiberg is gone as soon as this season is over.
It’s too bad because Nebraska can be fun to watch at times. The two-headed monster (if you can really call it that) of Alonzo Verge and Bryce McGowens has flashed brilliance on occasion.
Verge is the engine that drives the Nebraska offense. Granted, that engine belongs in a mid-90s Toyota Corolla, but he’s put up some astounding numbers.
His 41.2 assist rate is fourth among all college basketball players, as he’s dishing out more than five assists per night. He has a quick first step and can dribble penetrate with the best of them.
He also is active on the defensive end, as his 1.5 steals per game ranks among the top five in the conference.
Meanwhile, McGowens is the first five-star prospect to ever come to Nebraska. He’s averaging almost 17 points per game and is shouldering a heavier load of his team’s offense than any rookie in the Big Ten.
I think the Big Ten Freshman of the Year race says a lot about how you view basketball. Are you a Malaki Branham voter or a Bryce McGowens voter?
All-Frosh team of Branham, McGowens, Diabate, Houstan and Christie looks pretty straightforward though. pic.twitter.com/OfkBO8EWh7
— Dylan Burkhardt (@umhoops) February 24, 2022
But those two have a combined ORtg below 97. And there’s no depth on the team. And the defense is catastrophic, particularly on the interior (53.7 2P% allowed, last in B1G; 5.7% block rate, last in B1G).
There’s no hope for Nebraska. The team needs a reload and a new head coach.
Iowa vs. Nebraska Betting Pick
We have to sell high on Iowa here.
After back-to-back high-quality wins, the Hawkeyes are due for a let down game. This is a good spot for it, considering the Hawkeyes are on the road and could be looking ahead to a tough final stretch (vs. Northwestern, at Michigan, at Illinois).
Meanwhile, Nebraska has covered in just one of its last five games. The Cornhusker stock continues to sink, but they’re a respectable 10-8 against the spread (ATS) at home this season.
With Nebraska catching above 10 points, I’m willing to take a shot with the Cornhuskers to play up-tempo with Iowa and keep this game within single digits.
I don’t expect the Cornhuskers to win, however.
The over is also worth a look. As mentioned, these are the top two teams in the Big Ten in tempo, and this pace is going to be astoundingly fast. Plus, Nebraska can’t really rebound, so Murray should get as many offensive putbacks as possible.
Anything close to 161 is playable.
Pick: Nebraska +11 | Bet to: +10
Bonus Pick: Over 161.5 | Bet to: 162
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