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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

Things I know, and things I think I know (about basketball):

You hear all the time that sound guard play becomes more important in the postseason.

Let Tim Miles explain. 

"Whenever you have a finite amount of time for each possession, there's going to be skill to end that possession, so the ball usually ends up in a guard's hands," the sixth-year Nebraska men's head coach says. "Same thing at the end of a game.

"People pay so much more attention to the finality of the NCAA Tournament, which is one-and-done, and the Big Ten Tournament, which is also one-and-done, so (guard play) is accentuated a great deal."

Which means Glynn Watson's importance escalates a bit. The 6-foot Nebraska junior point guard has been an interesting study this season. His scoring has dipped, from 13.0 points per game last season to 10.5, as have his field-goal shooting percentages — from 41.7 percent overall to 35.1 and from 39.7 percent from three-point territory to an unsightly 27.9.

However, he's a combined 7-for-15 from the field in the past two games after going a combined 3-for-21 in the preceding two. That should help his confidence — assuming his confidence needed help. A native of Bellwood, Illinois, Watson has continued to play excellent defense and handle the ball well even while his shooting went awry.

I like his demeanor on the court, and his quickness is something to behold.

"He's responded really well," All-Big Ten guard James Palmer says. "Obviously, he's not shooting the ball good this year. But we all know he can score. He can get 30 points at any given moment.

"He's a lock-down defender. A lot of people don't know that. He's done a good job leading the team. Whether he's scoring or not, he's always a positive guy."

Watson's had to change his game since last season, when he often was a go-to scorer. This season, he's tied for sixth in the Big Ten in steals (1.4 per game), and his assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2) ranks ninth.

"He's done it without any ego," Miles said.

Senior Evan Taylor was in the starting lineup in Watson's place Sunday against Penn State for senior day. But Watson will be the starter Friday, Miles said.

Watson doesn't need to be great for Nebraska to advance in the Big Ten Tournament (and perhaps the Big Dance). But he needs to be steady. It's the postseason. His importance is indeed accentuated.

If he finds his offense, look out.

* Miles didn't ruffle any feathers at Big Ten headquarters with his tepid response Wednesday when I asked him if playing in Madison Square Garden this week is worth the negatives brought about by the situation.

"I doubt if we'll do it again like this," Miles said. "I would be surprised if the Big Ten condensed the schedule again and did the whole thing."

Playing this year's conference tournament in the Garden meant playing some league games in December and having a layoff of almost two weeks before the NCAA Tournament begins. Bad move, commish. Jim Delany has said the idea of playing in MSG largely was about giving teams and fans a chance to see the Big Ten in the Big Apple and in a famous arena.

The Garden doesn't seem to move Miles' needle much.

"It's an iconic place," he said. "You see it on TV from a young age. So, maybe it'll strike me differently when I'm on the court. I'm sure it'll be a cool experience either way."

New York is indeed a basketball city. But so is Chicago.

You want a guaranteed big-time feel? Anchor the tournament in Chi-town.

* Miles is on-target when he says Michigan has played differently — as in better — in the past five or six games.

"John (Beilein) kind of morphed his offense from a ball-screen offense to more driving harder, dribble-drives, sprinting guys out," Miles said. "They're getting downhill more. It's a few more challenges. You have to adjust accordingly."

It's likely Nebraska will play Michigan on Friday. Which means it's likely Husker fans' stomachs will be in knots for much of the game. Although Nebraska beat UM by 20 in mid-January, this would be a rematch that could go down to the final few possessions. Who wants it more?

That should be the team in scarlet and cream.

After all, Michigan, 24-7 and riding a five-game winning streak, is a lock for the Dance.

Meanwhile, "A lot of people are doubting us, a lot of people are saying we're not good enough," NU forward Isaac Copeland says. "The opportunity's there. Time for us to take it."

* Three coach-of-the-year honors in the past four seasons (twice in the Summit League, once in the Big Ten)?

I'm done doubting Amy Williams.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


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