For the most part, Nebraska’s start to the 2017-18 season has fallen in line with the preseason optimism surrounding the program, but the next 2 1/2 weeks figure to give sixth-year coach Tim Miles a good idea of just how far his team has come. The Cornhuskers begin a stretch in which they will face five consecutive power-conference foes over the next 18 days when they host Boston College on Wednesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Nebraska, which can begin 6-2 for the first time since it last made the NCAA Tournament in 2013-14 with a win over the Eagles, will face four straight ranked opponents beginning with a road test at No. 3 Michigan State once it finishes with BC. The Cornhuskers are coming off a solid showing in Florida last week, defeating Marist and Long Beach State at the Advocare Invitational after beginning the event with a hard-fought loss to Central Florida. Despite losing their last time out, the Eagles are off to their best seven-game start since 2010-11 but, like Nebraska, have yet to defeat a major-conference school. BC fell short in its second such try Saturday at Providence, finishing 5-of-23 beyond the arc in an 86-66 setback.
TV: 9:15 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT BOSTON COLLEGE (5-2): Fourth-year coach Jim Christian relies heavily on seven players - four of which average over 30 minutes per game and account for 69.5 percent of the team’s scoring - including his impressive backcourt duo of sophomore Ky Bowman (15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists) and junior Jerome Robinson (14.9 points). Robinson, the top returning scorer in the ACC from a season ago, is coming off a poor showing (12 points on 3-of-12 shooting), but he totaled 51 points on 17-of-27 from the field over his previous two outings. Illinois State transfer Deontae Hawkins (13.6 points, 10.3 boards) ranks third in the ACC in rebounding and has already posted four double-doubles, including one in each of his last three contests.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (5-2): Leading scorer Glynn Watson Jr. (14.3 points, 2.1 steals) was a bit of a one-man wrecking crew against the 49ers, contributing nine of his season-high 26 points, three of his career-high six steals and a blocked shot in the first five-plus minutes of action. ”He’s a disruptive force. It’s almost like (Seattle Seahawks cornerback) Richard Sherman on defense. You don’t want to challenge him,” Long Beach coach Dan Monson told reporters about Watson after the junior guard pestered his team in 31 minutes of action. After languishing on the bench during most of last season following his transfer from Louisville, senior guard Anton Gill (12.2 points, team-high 14 3-pointers) is off to a torrid offensive start, shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 56 percent beyond the arc.
1. Nebraska has scored at least 84 points four times this year after topping that mark only three times all of last season.
2. The Eagles haven’t won a true road contest in either of their last two seasons.
3. The Cornhuskers finished with 15 steals Sunday - matching the most under Miles - and have blocked at least five shots in every game this season.
PREDICTION: Nebraska 78, Boston College 72