Hurrdat Sports

↓ The Local Coverage You Need ↓

Hail Varsity
Mavericks All Access
Bluejay Breakdown
NEB Preps
NEB Pros

No. 8 Nebraska Opens NCAA Tournament Thursday Against No. 9 Texas A&M

by Mar 21, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

No. 8 Nebraska Opens NCAA Tournament Thursday Against No. 9 Texas A&M
Photo Credit: Kyle Byers

Nebraska men’s basketball is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. 

The No. 8 seed Huskers (23-10) will face No. 9 seed Texas A&M (20-14) on Friday at 5:50 CT at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. 

The game will be televised on TNT and feature Spero Dedes and Jim Spanarkel on the call with Jon Rothstein court-side. 

It is just the eighth time in school history Nebraska has made the NCAA Tournament and the first time since the 2013-14 season. The eighth seed is tied for the third-highest in school history. The 1991 (No. 3 seed) and 1994 (No. 6 seed) teams received a higher seed than the 2023-24 Huskers. 

“Here at Nebraska, this is the eighth time in the history of the program. We’ve had a lot of firsts this year with this team and we’re chasing another one,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said Sunday after the NCAA Tournament selection show. “It’s an opportunity now to go out and do something that has never been done in the history of the program.”

Nebraska enters Friday the winner of seven of its last nine games after reaching the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the first time since the school joined the Big Ten.

Inside Texas A&M

The Aggies won five straight games before their loss to Florida in the SEC semifinals on Saturday. 

Texas A&M’s strength is rebounding where the Aggies rank seventh nationally in rebounding margin (plus-8.9 per game). The Aggies are the best offensive rebounding team in the country, sporting a 42.0% rate according to KenPom. The national average is 29%. 

“They’re the best offensive rebounding team in the country,” Hoiberg said. “They play extremely hard, like all of Buzz [Williams’s] teams do.”

Making shots is not the Aggies’ strong suit. They are ranked 353rd in the country in 3-point percentage (28.4%) and 301st in 2-point percentage (47%). Nearly 50% of the shots they do make are 2-point shots and 27.6% are 3-point shots. 

However, the Aggies have shot much better recently from 3-point range. In their SEC semifinal loss to Florida (95-90) they shot 38.1%, and they were at 42.1% in the SEC quarterfinal win (97-87) over Kentucky, 

Two A&M players are averaging double figures in scoring: Junior guard Wade Taylor IV (18.9) and grad transfer Tyrese Radford (16.0).  Andersson Garcia, a 6-foot-7 Mississippi State transfer, leads the Aggies in rebounding (9.4 per game). 

Inside Nebraska

Keeping the Aggies off of the offensive glass is a priority for Nebraska

In the Huskers’ 10 losses this season, they have been out-rebounded by a total of 87. On the offensive glass, that number is 62. The one loss where they were an even (14-14) in offensive rebounding was Creighton.

Nebraska has won 25 straight games when out-rebounding its opponent, dating back to Nov. 27, 2022, against Florida State. The Huskers are a perfect 16-0 this season when out-rebounding their opponents. 

This season the Huskers are shooting a more than respectable 36% from 3-point range. Of the key players, Brice Williams and C.J. Wilcher are tied for the team lead at 39% with Keisei Tominaga third on the team at 37%. 

Nebraska averages 11.2 turnovers per game and forces 11.5. A&M forces 11.4 turnovers per game and turns it over 9.6 times per game. 

Nebraska’s offensive attack is more balanced than the Aggies’. The Huskers feature four players who average double figures led by Tominaga (14.9). Tominaga also has a team-high 71 made 3-pointers. Williams is second on the team in scoring (13.1) while Juwan Gary averages 11.7 points per game. Rienk Mast, averages 12.5 points and leads the Huskers in rebounds (7.6 per game) and assists (3.0 per game). 

The Huskers lead the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (9.5) and their 312 3-pointers this season are a new school record. The previous best of 270 was set in 2019.

Nebraska is averaging 77.6 points per game and will look to score 80 on Friday versus A&M. The Aggies have given up an average of 70.8 points per game this season. They are 25-7 under Fred Hoiberg when scoring 80 or more points, including 20-4 the last three seasons. The 98-87 loss to No. 13 Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament marked the first time in the last three seasons that Nebraska scored 80 or more points and lost in regulation.

More History on the Line For Huskers

Nebraska has had a history-making season. They will look for their first-ever NCAA Tournament win Friday.

“Obviously going into the season, it’s a big goal to be here, and you know that Nebraska’s never won an NCAA Tournament game,” Mast said. “But now to actually be here and be in this position and have this opportunity, just super excited to go out there and hopefully write some history.”

History is on the line and the Huskers haven’t shied away from it. In fact, it’s something they set out to do before the season started. 

“It’s new, it’s exciting,” Williams said. “It’s the goal we set out to do when we transferred here. But at the same time we came, we wanted to win here. We didn’t want to just be here.

“So while we’re excited, I think we’re both just trying to, you know what I’m saying, write history, put our name down in history with Nebraska and just make a run.”

The 23 wins this season are the most by Nebraska since the 1990-91 season. It ranks second (26, 1990-91) on Nebraska’s single-season win chart. 

Nebraska is one of 23 teams nationally that ranks in the top 50 in both offensive and defensive efficiency in KenPom entering the NCAA Tournament. It marks the first time that Nebraska has been ranked in the top 50 of offensive and defensive efficiency in the KenPom era (since 1996-97).

The Huskers finished the regular season with an 18-1 home record, setting a single-season mark for home wins in a season. The .947 winning percentage is Nebraska’s best home winning percentage since 1965-66. Nebraska went a perfect 10-0 at home in Big Ten play and this is the third time Nebraska was unbeaten at home in conference since World War II (also 1965-66, 2017-18). The other seasons with a perfect conference record were between 1908 and 1921.

You May Also Like

2024 Nebraska Men’s Basketball Offseason Tracker

2024 Nebraska Men’s Basketball Offseason Tracker

The 2023-24 Nebraska men's basketball season came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but there's no such thing as a true offseason in college basketball these days. Coach Fred Hoiberg and his staff are already hard at work building the roster to make...

Cedar Falls Sophomore Gerdes Building Relationship With Huskers

Cedar Falls Sophomore Gerdes Building Relationship With Huskers

William Gerdes, one of the top high school prospects in Iowa, has a budding relationship with Nebraska.  Nebraska was the first to offer Gerdes, a 2026 forward from Cedar Falls High School, a scholarship in November, and Hail Varsity caught up with him at a recent AAU...

William Kyle III Visits Nebraska

William Kyle III Visits Nebraska

William Kyle III is one of the most sought-after names in the Division I transfer portal. After two seasons at South Dakota State during which the 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward developed into a first-team All-Summit performer, Summit League Defensive Player of the Year...