Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Receiving the dubious honor of coming in dead last; the Nebraska Cornhukers. As expected, they struggled in their inaugural Big Ten season which led to the firing of head coach Doc Sadler. Tim Miles was hired from Colorado State and faces a massive re-building effort in trying to make the Huskers a relevant basketball program.
Last Season: T-11th, 4-14 in Big 10, 12-18 overall
Predicted Big 10 Finish: 12th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Andre Almeida (Sr)/Sergej Vucetic (Fr)
F: Brandon Ubel (Sr)/Shavon Shields (Fr)
G/F: Dylan Talley (Sr)/David Rivers (So)
SG: Ray Gallegos (Jr)
PG: Deverell Biggs (Jr)/Benny Parker (Fr)
Gone: PG-Bo Spencer, G-Brandon Richardson, SG-Caleb Walker, F-Toney McCray, SG-Mike Fox, PG-Corey Hilliard (dismissed), C-Jorge Brian Diaz (transfer), SG-Josiah Moore (transfer-Tennessee Tech), C-Christopher Niemann (injury hardship)
Nebraska loses a total nine players from last year’s team that only won four conference games, including four of their five starters. The lone returning starter is power forward Brandon Ubel who averaged just 6.7 points per game. Known more as a rebounder, Ubel must become more assertive on the offensive end this season.
Likely to join Ubel in the starting frontcourt is Andre Almeida. The 6’11 big man redshirted last season as he recovered from a knee injury. At 315 pounds, he knows how to throw his massive body around inside but certainly isn’t the most skilled player by any means. 7’1 freshman Sergej Vucetic is the only player taller than 6’7 coming off the short Huskers’ bench. If he is unable to be a factor right away, Nebraska will be forced to use a smaller line-up since they simply lack options up-front.
The Huskers will have better talent on the floor in practice with transfers Terran Petteway and Walter Pitchford. Petteway is a 6’6 small forward coming from Texas Tech while Pitchford is 6’10 big man who spent last season at Florida. Both players won’t be able to dress for games per NCAA transfer rules but will be allowed to practice with the team. They will each have three years of eligibility remaining when they suit up for the 2013-14 season.
Dylan Talley served as the team’s sixth man last season after transferring in from a junior college but will be thrust into a much bigger role this season. He’ll likely serve as the team’s go-to scorer which is part of the reason they figure to struggle mightily this season. Freshman Shavon Shields is likely to get plenty of opportunity as well off the bench and is a capable shooter.
The guard position is undergoing a massive rehauling with three starters graduating and sophomore Corey Hilliard getting dismissed from the team after being arrested on suspicion of robbery. Shooting guard Ray Gallegos does return after redshirting last season due to depth that Nebraska had at guard but that certainly won’t be the case in 2012-13.
Nebraska native and the crazy athletic Deverell Biggs is expected to take the reins at point guard (although there has been talk that he might redshirt this season which would be absolutely crushing.) An All-American at Seward County CC last season, he will be thrust into a large role from the opening tip. Without a whole lot of scoring punch around him, Biggs will be the primary ball-handler and one of the best scoring options the Huskers will have. Little used sophomore David Rivers and freshman point guard Benny Parker must provide depth in the backcourt since there are no other options.
Miles has his work cut out for him at Nebraska. With a new practice facility and stadium opening up in downtown Lincoln next season, the Huskers are putting forth the financial backing to help Nebraska turn the corner as a basketball program. Still, this is a team that has never won a NCAA Tournament game. Barring a miracle, that streak will continue past this season.
Player to Watch: Akoy Agau
Because I am already punting on this season’s Husker team; let’s look to the future. Agau will be a senior at Omaha Central HS this season and is the state of Nebraska’s top recruit for the 2013 class. When he was a freshman, Biggs was a senior as Omaha Central so that relationship could help the Huskers land a commitment from the 6’9 power forward. However, major programs like UConn, Florida, Georgetown, Missouri, Tennessee, and West Virginia are all hot on his trail as well. If Miles can somehow keep the in-state product home, it would be a HUGE get and certainly give Husker Nation some optimism moving forward.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/27 at Wake Forest (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/3 vs. USC
12/22-23 vs. UTEP/Central Michigan/Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Sun Bowl Invitational)
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Follow paulmbanks