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What we know, what we don't: Breaking down the Nebraska men's basketball team's storylines
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What we know, what we don't: Breaking down the Nebraska men's basketball team's storylines

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Fred Hoiberg

Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg (right) hugs Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo prior to the game on Feb. 20, 2020, at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

What we don’t know

How's the chemistry? It wasn't great last year — Nebraska often crumbled in times of adversity. Now NU has turned over the roster again, though key holdovers remain in Thorir Thorbjarnarson, Yvan Ouedraogo, Dalano Banton, Derrick Walker and Shamiel Stevenson. Fred Hoiberg has said he loves coaching this group, and that players are constantly in the gym.

Who's doing what? Who will Nebraska look to in crunch time? Which player (or players) will carry the scoring load? Who's going to guard the opponents' best guy? With so few known quantities, and no preseason scrimmages or exhibitions to iron things out, the Huskers will be learning on the fly along with their fan base. Sure, Hoiberg and his coaching staff probably have an idea. But it's one thing to do it against your own guys. It's another to do it against Creighton or Michigan State.

Where will we be March 11, 2021? That's the one-year anniversary of Nebraska's loss to Indiana at the Big Ten Tournament; of Hoiberg caught on television cameras looking ill; of the sports world beginning to shut down. Right now, the tournament is scheduled to be in its second day on that date.

What we know

The Big Ten is a bear: The conference was the best in the nation last season and might be better this year. Seven teams populate the Associated Press preseason top 25, including three in the top eight. A whopping 10 teams are in the top 30 of the KenPom rankings, and only Nebraska is outside the top 70. 

Expect the unexpected: The season isn't even off the ground yet, and already there's been plenty of shuffling. Four teams dropped out of Nebraska's multi-team event, and Chadron State joined late. Up I-80, Creighton canceled its first three games of the season after positive COVID-19 tests in the program. It's going to be a season of fits and starts, so settle in.

Nebraska should be better: The length, the athleticism, the depth; it's all better than it was last year, when Nebraska went 7-25 and 2-18 in the Big Ten. What that means for wins and losses, who knows. But the Huskers lost eight games by eight points or less last season. It's fair to think a few of those go NU's way this year with improved talent.

— Chris Basnett

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker men's basketball/baseball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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