The state of Nebraska basketball parlay bet

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.


Nebraska

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.


Creighton

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.


Omaha

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.

1st Team

F Cole Huff, Creighton

F  Shavon Shields, Nebraska

G Isaiah Zierden, Creighton

G Devin Patterson, Omaha

G Maurice Watson, Creighton

2nd Team

F Toby Hegner, Creighton

F Tre’Shawn Thurman, Omaha

F Andrew White, Nebraska

G Marcus Tyus, Omaha

G James Milliken, Creighton

3rd Team

C Geoffrey Groselle, Creighton

F Jake White, Omaha

F Ed Morrow, Nebraska

G Khryi Thomas, Creighton

G Benny Parker, Nebraska

 

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So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

I was in Lincoln on Saturday and a Lincolnite struck up a conversation with me about college basketball, more specifically on the local spectrum.  He was wearing a Husker shirt and watching the Huskers not having a fun camping trip to Rhode Island, he was quite possibly suicidal from the Huskers football loss earlier in the day as well.  At this point in the day I am guessing he had at least 16 beers inside of him, but he made some sense.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers are the best college basketball team in the state, on paper, he claims.  Those two teams from Omaha, Creighton and UNO, are awful match ups for the Huskers, he adds.  This guy is saying all the words I have been thinking to myself for a while, oh and this guy when he gets up and goes to the bathroom looks like Bambi trying to walk on a frozen lake.  I contact my friends who are both huge into college basketball and present this guys’ ideas as if they are mine, honestly some of them were things I was thinking but afraid of looking stupid if I said them.  His random thoughts on how Dude, Where’s My Car is the funniest film all time, those don’t sit well with me.

The main reason Creighton and UNO are terrible match ups for Nebraska:  Walter Pitchford vs. (Creighton) Artino/Hegner/Hansen and Walter Pitchford vs (UNO) Rostampour/White/Thurman.  Due to lack of options down low, Nebraska is playing a 6’10” shooting guard at center.  Their 6’10 “post player” has taken 16 shots on the year and 11 of them have been for three.  In his short tenure at Nebraska, he has never looked good defending down low, last year Leslee Smith was counted on a lot to come off the bench and guard the other team’s big men when Pitchford just couldn’t handle it.

If Mike Rostampour and Jake White are both in on this, they are going to eat up Pitchford.  Pitchford wont be able to guard them, Terran Petteway, Shavon Shields, and David Rivers are going to have to help out, it’s going to cause issues for the Huskers.  All the threes Pitchford takes, they do not open things up in the post, a 6’10” that can hit from three is a huge weapon, but it doesn’t open things up for things to happen if he’s just planting his feet and waiting for someone to pass him the ball the whole time.  If he misses, UNO is better at rebounding than Nebraska, if those threes aren’t going it, it will be a disaster for Nebraska.  I’ve never said UNO was a better rebounding team than anybody, NEVER!

A big reason UNO was able to pick up a win at Marquette was because of the hot start they had, and they were able to keep that lead.  Nebraska has had some slow starts in this young season so far, if they don’t come out and grab a lead early, Nebraska may find themselves in the same situation as Marquette did on Saturday.

Something else that doesn’t work in Nebraska’s favor is the pace.  Yes, Nebraska has Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields who can both put up a lot of points.  With Pitchford’s current shooting struggles, they don’t really have a 3rd scorer.  Most of the teams that beat Nebraska last year could score the ball.

  • UMass won 96-90
  • UAB won 87-74
  • Ohio State won 84-53
  • Creighton won 82-67
  • Michigan won 79-50
  • Cincy won 74-59
  • Michigan won 71-70
  • Ohio State won 71-67
  • Purdue won 70-64
  • Iowa won 67-57
  • Illinois won 60-49
  • Penn State won 58-54

The most points that Nebraska scored in a win: 83 vs. South Carolina State who the Mavericks beat 91-59 and 83-67.  Nebraska, doesn’t like the high scoring games.  It’s not them, it’s not what they like doing.

I love Tim Miles, I think he’s the biggest advantage for the Nebraska, and I don’t think there is a long list of guys that could have turned Nebraska into a tournament team as quickly as he did.  When I lived in Utah we got this Mountain West channel and all the games I got were all of Colorado State’s basketball and football games, and I thought then if Doc Sadler got fired at Nebraska that Tim Miles was the right man for the job.  Tim Miles is no idiot, it didn’t take him seven years to graduate high school, he has been the head coach of a transitioning team that beat Marquette and Wisconsin, and he knows what this game means for the Mavericks and what it would do for them.

I don’t want it to seem like I’m the guy that thinks the Mavericks totally have this.  I’m not the Husker football fan saying before the (and every) season that they’re going to win the national championship because the 1995 ‘skers were the best football team of all time.  A lot can happen.  Pitchford can start hitting his shots finally.  Rostampour can pick up two quick fouls and the Mavericks could lose their rebounding advantage, especially if Jake White is out.  Petteway of Nebraska and White of Omaha are both game time decisions, those are two huge decisions for this.

One large X-Factor in this is CJ Carter.  Someone like Carter has been waiting to pick up a win in Lincoln for a long damn time.  Per twitter, Tre’Shawn Thurman has also been waiting for something like this for a long time.  Carter though, he’s played a college basketball game in Lincoln, and it didn’t go that well for him.  6 points and 4 rebounds on 1-6 shooting against the Husker in 2012.  In fact, pre-Marquette win, Carter had struggled against the Power 6 conferences.  In 7 games from his freshman to junior year, Carter averaged 7.3ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.9apg, 30%fg, and 25% on threes.  Tonight’s game against Nebraska is Carter’s shot at redemption in front of his fellow Nebraskans.

CJ+Carter+Nebraska+Omaha+v+UNLV+RI9q4yg0I81l

 

The Huskers need this game for respect, they know that.  Before this game, the locals all had the Nebraska is Going to Steamroll Creighton and UNO feelings.  Now things have changed, Nebraska knows they need this game for respect, they were the best show in town and now that’s been taken away from them.  By the way, it’s been 15+ years since going into a season that there was a consensus that the Huskers were the best college basketball team in the state.  Are they used to all these mixed emotions?

By the way, Mavs fans need a #hashtag for this game.  #breakthebank is too cliche.  We need something…

Mavericks win could start something here

I’ve never been so bummed from a UNO basketball win.  Why am I so bummed?  I’m glad I asked myself.

I’m currently working a seasonal job at Omaha Steaks for a little extra money to help pay for all the traveling my wife and I did this past year.  The only schedule I could choose that would work out with my full time job is going to force me to miss out on a few UNO games.  I may or may not get off from Omaha Steaks early enough on Tuesday to catch the game on ESPN 3, which I’m clearly hoping for getting off work early.

Anyway, Tuesday night my friend calls me when I’m done at Omaha Steaks and offers me two free tickets to go to the Nebraska football game.  I’ve been living in Nebraska for 27 out of 28 years of my life and I have never been to a Nebraska football game, so I say hell yes without even thinking.  I quickly remember that UNO basketball is on television on Saturday.  I come up with this plan to check the UNO stats on my phone during the Husker game and then head to a bar to watch the second half of UNO-Marquette.

I’m standing there watching the Minnesota Gophers come back on Nebraska, there was a play in the 2nd half when the Huskers are 2nd and 1 and they call a 7 step drop back pass for Tommie Armstrong who gets sacked and it’s now 3rd and 9, they don’t convert the 4th and right there I figured to myself that Minnesota had enough momentum to win this game.  So that’s when I start looking up the UNO stats and I see UNO is up by 5 with a little to go in the first half.  I’m just standing there thinking to myself – Shit, I’m missing what could come out to be the biggest win in UNO’s short D1 history.  All so I could be standing at this embarrassment of a Nebraska football game and wonder if I should ever come back as there could now be a slight possibility that I am the Nebraska football bad luck guy.  You don’t want to be that guy.

So the Nebraska  game ends and my friends and I head out of Memorial Stadium, which is the quietest I have ever seen 90,000 people.  It was like walking out of a funeral, a funeral that no one had respect for the dead since they dressed in red Husker jackets and one guy was even dressed as a pirate, but still the quiet feel of a funeral.  We get to a bar, we ask for them to turn to the UNO game, the hipster bartender asks “Who?”  The Marquette game is what we have to claim.  The bartender searches the television and the bar doesn’t have the channel.  So yes, instead of getting to watch UNO’s win over Marquette I had to sit in a bar and watch the stats go by.  That is why I am bummed.

Before the start of the season I didn’t really think Marquette would be that good of a team.  They have no size, a first year coach, not much depth, and not a great deal of experience.  So early on I thought that UNO had a chance, even if they were picked as a 17 point underdog.  When I saw Jake White was going to be out, I thought the chances for a UNO win dropped.  I thought it took away a lot of UNO’s experience and size.  But freshmen forwards Tre’Shawn Thurman and Rylan Murry stepped up in his absence.  At Seattle, Thurman got his first start and had 10 points and 8 rebounds, Murry came off the bench for 10 points and three rebounds.  At Marquette, Thurman had 12 and 7 while Murry had 10 and 2.  Two freshmen came in played big in when UNO really needed it.  They combined for 9-11 from the floor in an environment they had ever reason to combine for 3-11.  These two guys are going to be sick in a few years.  I hear sick is a good thing now.

Marquette isn’t at their best right now, but it’s still Marquette and it was in Milwaukee.  Marquette is a big name, they consistently play in the tournament, and Dwayne Freaking Wade played at Marquette.  I hope Gabrielle Union gave him crap for it.  Also UNO’s older cousin down the street plays in the same conference, so it makes a statement that maybe UNO could hang with Creighton finally.  Also, with UNO topping a big name it makes the upcoming UNO-Nebraska matchup far more interesting to people around Nebraska.  Early on the locals thought Nebraska would just steam roll the Mavericks, that thought isn’t on people’s minds right now.  The Huskers slow starts in an exhibition game and then against Central Arkansas has taken away some confidence Nebrasketball fans.  Also, with a little momentum behind the Mavericks, they’re not looking to top their program’s biggest win just a few days later for an even bigger win.

I don’t think there was much excitement about UNO-Nebraska a few years ago when the teams met up in Lincoln.  UNO was pretty fresh into D1 and Nebraskans didn’t know how good Tim Miles was really was at that point, nor did they have high expectations in his first season.  Nebraska also has Terrran Petteway and Walter Pitchford redshirting.  This game, Petteway could be playing on a bad ankle and the Huskers tallest player, Pitchford, has no desire to play in the paint.  Mike Rostampour is going to eat that up.  UNO also just shot 57% on the road against a Big East team and Nebraska is coming off 36% shooting against an Atlantic 10 team, ad they also shot 15% from downtown.  UNO also has an experienced back court that each had 22+ points in each of their wins.

This stretch of games could be some of the most important stretch UNO has ever had as far as marketing their program.  A win at Marquette, an exciting match up at Nebraska, a home game against a somewhat big name Nevada, and an away game at Kansas State – who compares pretty well to Marquette in terms of size and experience.  If UNO can get a couple more wins in this stretch, the seats are going to get a little more full in Ralston.  I may not be able to buy 9 dollar seats and then sit wherever the hell I want due to an empty arena.  The Mavericks are making some noise, it’s starting to getting louder in Omaha.