So I love talking about college basketball any time of the year. A buddy of mine finds it incredibly difficult to talk about college basketball until the month of October, which I fully understand and respect. I am pretty sure he was talking about late October after the MLB has concluded, but this is what you get when you are not specific. Last season we had a bet, a parlay bet if you will, based on the win totals of the division one men’s basketball teams for Nebraska, Creighton, and Omaha. I am not completely well versed on all the gambling terms out there, but I think it is a parlay bet. I love going to the casino and playing blackjack, but I seriously learned what a parlay bet was from watching “Silver Linings Playbook”. Anyway, even though no one won last year, we fully intend on doing this bet again.
The idea is that we set an agreeable number set as a over/under figure for how many wins each team will have, but we will not include their conference tournaments or any potential post season tournaments. If we think one of them will go 15-15, we will set the over/under on that team at 14.5 or 15.5. Each of us then decide between them getting more than 14.5 wins or less than 14.5 wins. We set a different prediction for each team, and in order for you to win, you have to get all three right. We’re not betting tens of dollars on this, just a growler of beer at the winner’s choice of brewery. It is very difficult for me to decide between Nebraska Brewing Company and Benson Brewery. Nebraska Brewing would make sense though, because that this is about Nebraska.
Since each of the three teams under performed last season, neither of us came even close. The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. See what I did there? Being that I had no faith in Creighton to do well last season, I had the under on them correctly, as we set the over/under on Creighton at 19.5, I believe. Nebraska and UNO underperforming, kept me from getting a free growler from Benson Brewery though. By the way, in the state of Nebraska it is apparently illegal to take an outside growler into a brewery and have them fill it. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law each got me growlers for Christmas. One was an Oregon Ducks growler and the other was to some brewery in the state of Washington. I tried to take the Oregon Ducks growler in some place in Nebraska and was notified that Nebraska is one of two states to have this rule. Denied.
Anyway, I am open to suggestions on to what to set the over/under on each team this season. All three teams had trips to Europe, so you have got to be thinking some sort of improvements for each team.
It is almost a gut instinct to set the Huskers at a low win total. They only had 13 wins in 2014-2015 and most preseason predictions have them finishing 13th in the Big 10 this upcoming season. They lost Terran Petteway who is now with the Atlanta Hawks, and they have nine new players being thrown into the mix.
The good news for the Huskers is that they only have two true road non-conference games, and one of those games is in Omaha against Creighton. They lost Petteway, but they still have Shavon Shields. I never think it is great when your main scorer is a volume scorer like Petteway. Your first option on offense last season shot 39% from the field, and now your main option on offense shot 44% from the field last season, those few more field goals can make a big difference, especially if your volume scorer is taking poor shots just for the sake of scoring points. The bad news about Shields is that his field goal percentage has dropped in each of his 3 seasons as a Husker, but I feel like he was playing hurt for much of the 2014-2015 season, am I wrong? I could be making that up, I thought I remember reading that.
The Huskers’ third option on offense, Walter Pitchford is also gone, and they should be look at this like it is a great thing. Pitchford’s production dropped from his sophomore season to his junior season, and he did not even look like he was into it most games. He just looked like a guy that was being forced to go to a chick flick with his wife, because the comic book movie you took her to had terrible dialogue. He also just seemed unwilling to take the ball into the post and score, which is what you look for in a 6’10” player (not). So two of your top three scorers shot less than 40% from the field, in a way, you should actually feel pretty good about replacing that with a Kansas transfer and a few highly touted freshman. I still seriously need someone to explain to me how Pitchford is competing for a roster spot on a NBDL team and Mike Rostampour is not.
I think the Huskers can at least get 7 wins in their non-conference schedule. Are they better than 7-11 in the Big 10? As they are picked 13th to win the conference, many people do not think so. Their season is really going to be dependent on how well their freshmen Glynn Watson and Ed Morrow can adjust to division one, but really we are in an age where most power conference teams are relying on a number for freshmen to step in right away.
I’m still not completely confident in the Huskers, I think we are going to have to set the over/under for the Huskers at 13.5. I badly want the over on that though, but I understand there is some risk involved.
The Bluejays finished 14-19 last season, and they lost 5 contributors from last year’s team, but it was a seriously awkward year for Creighton. After losing 4 major contributors from 2013-2014, including Doug McDermott, Creighton was left in a bit of a mess. They had a few injury issues that did not help them try to carve out a starting lineup, with only one player during the season starting in all of the team’s games.
Greg McDermott gets to play transfers Cole Huff (via Nevada) and Maurice Watson (via Boston University) this season, who were both double digit scorers at their previous schools. These two should more than help replace some of what the team lost. If anyone has been paying attention, Creighton has freshmen Khyri Thomas and Martin Krampelj sound ready to make an impact right away. Both players averaged double digits in scoring on the team’s trip to Italy.
Anyway, it seems completely realistic for the Bluejays to improve on 14 wins this upcoming season, but by how much? They do have two true road games against Oklahoma and Indiana in their non-conference schedule that will be incredibly difficult, and they also have the Huskers in Omaha which seems like an automatic win for the Bluejays anymore. They also have a tough Arizona State team at home as well. Every team in the Big East looks to be improving as well, as most of them were down last season, so with 31 games on the regular season schedule I am thinking of setting the over/under for Creighton at 17.5. It is tough, but I want to take the under on this.
A depressing 12 wins last season, I think we had the over/under last season at 16.5 and we both selected the over. I opened up to you, and you judged me. There were a number of injuries for the Mavericks, and some games that were lost in the final couple minutes, and the team is returning a lot so one could think the Mavericks will improve upon the 12 wins. However, the Mavs have what appears to be a more difficult non-conference schedule this upcoming season.
Does this Omaha team remind anyone else of the 2004-2005 Phoenix Suns roster? White-Amar’e, Thurman-Marion, Hollins-Johnson, Tyus-Richardson, Patterson-Nash? I say that only ever watching one game of Hollins ever, and that was Omaha Central’s championship game his senior season. I was only really watching the game to see how Nick Billingsley would do. Oh, how the world works.
Anyway, if the roster is like the Suns, one could assume that the Mavericks will have a pretty good season in the conference, but likely lose to a North Dakota State or South Dakota State in the semi finals. They will also more than likely lose in a way that will make you debate the pros and cons of getting in a fight with a referee. I want to set the over/under at 15.5 for Omaha, and I want that over.
So I am welcome to any thoughts and suggestions if those are appropriate figures.
Also, something completely trivial that I typically send this friend at the start of the college basketball season is a Pre Season All State of Nebraska Division 1 Team. This is what I set for the team, but I do not feel all that confident about it. It’s not like this really makes a difference anyway. Unless a Creighton die hard finds this, then they will bitch about it. Take that photo of the state of Nebraska being a Husker basketball state downtown and you will for sure find yourself into a condescending man that will lecture you on Creighton versus Nebraska.
F Cole Huff, Creighton
F Shavon Shields, Nebraska
G Isaiah Zierden, Creighton
G Devin Patterson, Omaha
G Maurice Watson, Creighton
F Toby Hegner, Creighton
F Tre’Shawn Thurman, Omaha
F Andrew White, Nebraska
G Marcus Tyus, Omaha
G James Milliken, Creighton
C Geoffrey Groselle, Creighton
F Jake White, Omaha
F Ed Morrow, Nebraska
G Khryi Thomas, Creighton
G Benny Parker, Nebraska