The Washington State Cougars are headed to the Caribbean for Thanksgiving Break. Sounds great, except they still have to spend some time inside a gym each day. Today, they’ll spend that time taking on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Cayman Islands Classic.
Before we get into the preview, let’s talk about how you can actually watch the these tournament games. Short answer: You can see all you want for $30. Don’t be fooled because the basketball social media team didn’t follow your standard restaurant review guidelines, and only went with two dollar signs.
| 5 |— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) November 25, 2019
| 4:30 p.m. PT
️| Cayman Islands Classic
| John Gray Gym
| https://t.co/MOILvmQFeC ($$)
| https://t.co/7104TLJhMu#CougsVsEverybody | #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/uErvClGUMw
As you can see, the game is at 4:30 pm PT (possibly later because it is the last game of the day).
We won’t get into too much detail on the preview for time’s sake, but obviously this is the Bill Moos Bowl. He has a shiny new coaching hire in Fred Hoiberg. Like the Cougs, Nebraska has had an uneven start against some low-level competition under its new regime.
Offensively, Hoiberg’s team has done an excellent job taking care of the ball. That’s bad for a Cougar squad that has struggled when it can’t get steals. The Cornhuskers also get to the free throw line often, and shoot pretty well from inside the arc. WSU has faltered with teams that can look to go inside, so those factors could lead to a difficult defensive night.
The good news? Nebraska is not a good rebounding team offensively (or defensively). WSU should be able to dominate the defensive glass and get a nice chunk of offensive rebounds. The Cougs have to be cautious with the latter, because Nebraska will want to get out and run. Transition defense is probably more important than the occasional second chance on offense.
When WSU has the ball, Nebraska will look to defend the 3-point line. The Huskers are allowing teams to shoot just under 29 percent from deep, and they are taking about three less 3-point attempts per 100 field goal attempts than the national average.
The Cougs have struggled to get to the free throw line all season, and don’t expect that to change against Nebraska. The Huskers are 24th in free throw rate allowed.
KenPom predicts a close one, 71-70 Nebraska. To win, WSU needs efficient games from CJ Elleby and Isaac Bonton, and to garner nearly every available defensive rebound. Although we must remember it is the Bill Moos Bowl, so Nebraska might rollover in honor or its AD’s preferred style of coaching contracts.