Minnesota looks to keep its roll going heading into the Big Ten Tournament when it heads to Lincoln on Wednesday to face Nebraska, which has little postseason hope. The Golden Gophers looked like their postseason chances were in big trouble before their upset of then-No. 1 Indiana last week. Now Tubby Smith's squad is back to .500 in league play and has a chance to head into the conference tournament on a four-game winning streak.
The Cornhuskers will be honoring three seniors as well as saying goodbye to their 37-year home, the Bob Devaney Sports Center, in their final home game of the season. Even without the closing festivities, Nebraska isn't going to be an easy out for the Gophers as the Cornhuskers have lost by 10 or less to nationally ranked foes Ohio State, Michigan State (twice) and Wisconsin this season, and come in off a narrow loss at Illinois on Saturday.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
ABOUT MINNESOTA (20-9, 8-8 Big Ten): It's not automatic, but when Trevor Mbakwe is playing like he did in wins over Indiana and Penn State (combined 34 points and 25 rebounds), the Golden Gophers are a different team. Mbakwe leads the Big Ten in rebounding and looks to be getting into a groove on both ends of the floor. Andre Hollins (13.6 points) may be the Gophers' leading scorer, but Mbakwe (10 points, 8.8 rebounds) may be the team's most valuable player with his work on the interior. Senior forward Rodney Williams (10.8, 5.2) is also vital to Minnesota's hopes of going far in the postseason, especially with his ability to be a shot-blocker in the paint.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (13-16, 4-12): The Cornhuskers have been lost in the balance of the very strong Big Ten, but coach Tim Miles' squad has improved its win total from last year despite losing four starters. Dylan Talley (14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists) will certainly look to attack the Gophers' defense early to try to get the home crowd into the game. Ray Gallegos is extremely dangerous on the perimeter when left open, which Minnesota found out when he went for 30 in the two teams' previous matchup this season. The team's leading rebounder, Brandon Ubel (11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds) - another senior - will need to play strong against the Golden Gophers' relentless rebounders.
1. The Gophers' win over Penn State on Saturday gave Smith his fifth 20-victory season in six years on the Minnesota bench. Smith has guided his teams to 20 or more victories in 19 of 22 seasons as a head coach.
2. Gallegos' six 3-pointers against Illinois Saturday moved him to fifth place on Nebraska's single-season list with 72. The junior trails only Cary Cochran and Tyronn Lue - both of whom hit 78 - in school history for 3-pointers by a junior.
3. This will be the 67th meeting between Minnesota and Nebraska on the hardwood, the most between the Cornhuskers and any other Big Ten member. The Gophers lead the all-time series 51-15, including the previous meeting between the two teams this year.
PREDICTION: Minnesota 72, Nebraska 63