As HHC first told you yesterday, the 2005-2006 schedule
was released today by the Nebraska Athletic Department, and is really a very attractive slate. While its tempting for us to predict how the games will go, we are strapping our belts on tightly and refraining from doing so until a later time. Instead, as promised, we are going to deliver the most comprehensive, in-depth look at the 2005-2006 opponents and schedule that you will find ANYWHERE.
To do this, we will release the analysis in four parts, so that we are able to provide extensive coverage and allow you time to digest the schedule in quarter parts. In today's analysis, we will break down the first seven of Nebraska's thirteen non-conference games, in order of occurrence, and hope that you will find it useful as you determine exactly how good or bad you feel the 2005-2006 schedule is. Look for part two some time in the next couple of days, and parts three and four (the North and South of the Big 12) early next week.
Before we dive into our analysis, we'd like to point out a few things that jumped out at us about the 2005-2006 schedule.
1. Nebraska opens its season with seven consecutive home games, and only leaves the friendly confines of the Bob Devaney Sports Center twice in the non-conference season. (Creighton and Florida State) While we like the tough home games and variety of opponents, we wish there was at least one more road test.
2. HHC really likes how Nebraska has divided the non-conference schedule, with the PERCEIVED tough and easy games divided up in groups. (Notice how we say perceive - we know that nothing is certain on paper)
3. There are three Sunday tilts in this years non-conference schedule, which is three more than HHC can remember the Huskers playing in any recent time.
4. Its about time we open the Big 12 season at home - seemed like we went to Kansas first about ninety years in a row.
Okay, now on to the most comprehensive, in-depth look at the 2005-2006 schedule you'll find anywhere.
JOHN THOMPSON CLASSIC: Friday November 18th-Sunday November 20th, 2005.LONGWOOD
: Friday, November 18, 2005
The Huskers open the 2005 campaign and begin a long weekend of hoops at the Bob Devaney Sports Center with the Longwood Lancers of Farmville, VA. The Lancers, who will begin their second season at the Division One ranks, come off a season that can best be explained by the 1980's television show "Growing Pains," as they finished their first tilt at the highest NCAA level by going 1-30, with their lone win against Howard.
However, if there is one thing third year coach Mike Gillan has to look forward to, it is the return of all eight of last years leading scorers, including four out of its five starters and eleven of fourteen letter winners. Spearheading the returning players for the Lancers is Michael Jefferson, who poured in 15.4 PPG a year ago and was named to the 2005 All-Independent Second Team. Maurice Sumter, the leading rebounder for the Lancers at 6.0 per game, also returns, and Longwood will hope that a wealth of returning players, as well as several close calls a year ago, will propel them in the win column.
In fact, Longwood lost two games in overtime a year ago, as well as taking James Madison University down to the wire in Harrisonburg, Virginia, before losing 72-70. Longwood will try to remember these close calls for the 2005-2006 tilt, and forget the fact that they tied an NCAA Division One record for losses in a season with thirty, and the fact that the season ended on a nineteen game losing streak.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE LONGWOOD LANCERS:
-Longwood has four NCAA Division Two Tournament appearances, with the last coming in 2001.
-Longwood will play at Kansas State on December 5th.
-Longwood was founded as an all women's college in 1839, and didn't become coed until 1976.
-Longwood finished last season with an RPI of 329. (collegerpi.com)
-Longwood and Nebraska will be squaring off for the first time in school history.
-Nebraska is 3-0 all-time against Division One Independents.LOUISIANA TECH
: Saturday, November 19, 2005
The John Thompson Classic will continue for the Huskers on Saturday, November 19th, as they host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs of the Western Athletic Conference. (WAC) The Bulldogs are lead by eighth year coach Keith Richard, who guided Tim Rattay's alma matter to a 14-15 record a season ago, including an impressive 64-55 win at Memphis, and wins over conference rivals Tulsa and twenty game winner UTEP.
Hailing from Ruston, LA., the Bulldogs will lose a lot from last years team, including three of their four leading scorers and three of the top five players in minutes per game. However, Louisiana Tech returns one of the more dynamic players in the WAC in Paul Millsap, who lead the team in both scoring and rebounding a year ago, at 20.4 PPG and 12.4 RPG, and turned down the chance at playing in the NBA to return to LA. Tech. The Bulldogs will also have hope that they can compete in the Devaney Center, as they played a respectable 5-9 on the road last season, as well as 1-2 in games played on a neutral site.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE LOUSIANA TECH BULLDOGS:
-Louisiana Tech played Husker opponent UAB on the road last year, and took them down to the wire, before ultimately falling 66-54.
-Louisiana Tech shot just 62.1% from the free throw line as a team in 2004-2005.
-Louisiana Tech finished last season with an RPI of 149. (collegerpi.com)
-Louisiana Tech and Nebraska will square off for the first time in school history.
-Nebraska is 8-4 all time against WAC teams.YALE
: Sunday, November 21, 2005
The Huskers will attempt to knock off two Bulldogs in one weekend, as the final matchup of the John Thompson Classic pits Nebraska against the Bulldogs of Yale. Hailing from the Ivy League and New Haven, CT., Yale will look to improve upon an 11-16 record from a season ago, and fourth year coach James Jones will hope that the Bulldogs can steal one in the Sports Center based on a wealth of tough road environments that Yale experienced a season ago, including a six point loss at Charlotte, (80-74) a double overtime loss at Boston College (82-80), and a first half fight at Wake Forest before being blown out. (99-72)
While Yale loses two of its top three leading scorers from a year ago, the Bulldogs do return three of five starters, including Dominick Martin, who poured in 12.3 PPG a year ago, and lead the team in rebounding at 7.8 per game. Not only this, but Yale also returns eight of eleven letter winners from a team that tied for third in the Ivy League in 2004-2005.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE YALE BULLDOGS:
-Yale finished the 2004-2005 season with a very respectable RPI of 190.
-Yale has made the post-season four times in school history, with its last appearance in the 2002 NIT.
-Yale and Nebraska will be meeting for the first time in school history.
-Nebraska is a perfect 4-0 all-time versus Ivy League opponents.SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE
: Sunday, November 27, 2005
Nebraska's first true home game of the 2005-2006 campaign will come against the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The Redhawks, who call the Ohio Valley Conference home, will hope to improve on last year's record of 15-14. However, to do this, Southeast Missouri State will have to rely on its youth, as they lose their top three leading scorers and top two rebounders.
To move the program forward, ninth year coach Gary Garner will rely on Terrick Willoughby, who is both the returning scorer and rebounder for the Redhawks, at 9.8 and 2.7, respectively. Southeast Missouri State will also hope to build upon its respectable 2004-2005 road record of 5-9, in which it took several teams down to the wire, including Bradley, and Ohio Valley foes Murray State and Samford.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE REDHAWKS:
-Southeast Missouri State finished the 2004-2005 campaign with an RPI of 205. (collegerpi.com)
-Southeast Missouri State defeated 2005-2006 Nebraska opponent South Dakota State by a score of 59-58.
-Southeast Missouri State and Nebraska will be meeting for the first time ever.
-Nebraska is 8-2 all-time against the Ohio Valley Conference.
-Southeast Missouri State, like South Dakota State, will face last years runner-up Illinois in 2005-2006.MARQUETTE
: Wednesday, November 30, 2005
The Marquette Golden Eagles will likely be the first true test of the 2005-2006 campaign for Nebraska, and will visit the Devaney Center with a completely new look from a year ago. Marquette, based in Milwaukee, WI., and formerly of Conference USA, will begin its first year of play in the Big East in 2005-2006, and will do so without four of its five starters from a year ago, including four of its five leading scorers and all-everything Travis Diener.
Coach Tom Crean, in his seventh year at the helm of Marquette, will have his hands full trying to improve upon last seasons mark of 19-12, in which the Golden Eagles defeated #22 Wisconsin and made an NIT appearance. The only two players of significance who return for Marquette are seniors Steve Novak (13.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 89 3-Pointers) and Joe Chapman. (8.1 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 40 3-Pointers) Perhaps there is hope for Marquette this season, though, as according to Hoopscoops, Marquette has the nation's sixth-best recruiting class, including newcomers Wesley Matthews, Dominic James, and Jerel McNeal.
Marquette's crop of talented young players bears noting, especially the three players previously mentioned. Wesley Matthews, a 6'5" wing player, was the Associated Press/Gatorade and Milwaukee Sentinel Player of the Year; Dominic James, a 5'10" point guard, led the state of Indiana in scoring; and Jerel McNeal was a first team all-state selection in Illinois.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES:
-Marquette finished last season with an RPI of 88. (collegerpi.com)
-Marquette finished 2004-2005 in a ninth place tie in Conference USA.
-Marquette and Nebraska have met seven times, with Marquette holding a 4-3 series lead after last seasons 81-62 victory over Nebraska in Milwaukee.
-Nebraska is 8-13 all-time against Big East opponents.UAB
: Saturday, December 3, 2005
Opponent number six of the 2005-2006 campaign is the Blazers of Alabama-Birmingham. UAB, who is coached by fourth year man Mike Anderson, will look to continue its string of postseason appearances, as Anderson has lead the team to the postseason in all three years he has been at the helm of Conference USA's most aggressive team. A season ago, UAB finished with a record of 22-11, including its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, in which the Blazers defeated LSU in the first round (82-68) before falling to Arizona in round number two. (85-63)
Noted for its "forty minutes of hell" pressure defense, UAB will continue to try and speed up the game in 2005-2006, and will be lead by Demano Eddins, who finished with 12.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG a year ago. Other than Eddins, UAB will struggle for returning leadership, as they lose two of their three top scorers from last year to graduation or the NBA. However, the Blazers will hope that a solid recruiting class, along with a dynamic pressure defense game plan, will allow UAB to continue its +7 Turnover margin per game from a season ago, and keep the Blazers in the upper helm of Conference USA.
The two most prominent newcomers for UAB will be JUCO guard Maurice Gibbs, who shot over 40% from the 3-point line a season ago and collected 14 PPG, and freshman forward Roderick Ollie, who at 6'6", was one of the most prominent high-school players in the state of Mississippi a year ago. (23 PPG, 13 RPG, 3 Steals PG)
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE UAB BLAZERS:
-UAB finished 2004-2005 with an RPI of 49. (collegerpi.com)
-UAB averaged 77.5 PPG last year, while allowing an average of 71.8 PPG
-UAB played 2005-2006 Nebraska opponent Louisiana Tech a year ago, and won 66-54.
-Nebraska owns a 2-1 series lead over UAB, with UAB's lone win coming last season in Birmingham. (80-66)
-Nebraska is 15-25 all-time against Conference USA opponents.South Dakota State
: Thursday, December 8, 2005
Nebraska finishes its seven game home stand to start the 2005-2006 season with the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State. Hailing from Brookings, SD., and lead by eleventh year coach Scott Nagy, the Jackrabbits will hop into the Devaney Center hoping to pull-off a minor miracle, especially when you consider that South Dakota State defeated just one Division One opponent a year ago. (Defeating Tennessee State in Nashville, 82-80) While finishing 10-18 in their first year at the Division One level, thanks to a large number of Division Two victories, the Jackrabbits struggled much the same way Longwood did, losing often and losing large.
However, SDSU will hope to propel the program forward this year, and are confident they can do so, thanks to the return of each of its best three scorers and rebounders. The Jackrabbits will rely on Ben Beran (13.6 PPG) to shoulder the scoring load, while Joe Green (6.8 RPG) will patrol the glass. Not only this, but the Jackrabbits think they have struck gold in recruiting, as they add speedy New York City JUCO PG Jose Frias, (11 PPG, 5 Assists) and a pair of 6'10" high-school post-players from the state of Minnesota. (Mark Engen & Robert Bilitz)
OTHER NOTES ABOUT THE SOUTH DAKOTA STATE JACKRABBITS:
-South Dakota State didn't receive an RPI from collegerpi.com a year ago, due to a large number of Division Two contests.
-South Dakota State finished last season 3-12 on the road.
-South Dakota State played two opponents from this year's Nebraska schedule a year ago, losing 59-58 at SE Missouri State, and losing at Marquette, 76-60.
-South Dakota State will play a murder schedule in 2005-2006, with games against Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Marquette, and Nebraska.
-Nebraska has played a surprising number of games against South Dakota State, leading the series history 9-0, although the last meeting came in 1982.
-Nebraska is 3-0 all-time against Division One Independents.
Hope you like Part One of the 2005-2006 Schedule. We welcome comments and hope you'll check back soon for Part Two and much, much more from HHC.