Michigan tries to stay perfect as they travel to Nebraska

LEFT: Hunter Dickinson #1 of the Michigan Wolverines looks to make a play while being guarded by John Harrar #21 of the Penn State Nittany Lions during the first half of a college basketball game at Crisler Arena on December 13, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Mi

It is rare when Michigan basketball can fly under the Big Ten radar when they are undefeated.

However, the Wolverines’ 6-0 start to the 2020-21 season has been silent because of the big names at the top of the conference- Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State- who have played tougher schedules and the emergence of Northwestern and Rutgers as legitimate players in the conference landscape.

Michigan has just slowly plotted along to this point. And they look to take another step when they travel to Lincoln on Christmas Day to face Nebraska (6 p.m., BTN) in a contest that could allow the Wolverines to move up from their No. 19 ranking in the Associated Press poll.

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The series history

Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011-12, Michigan has used the Cornhuskers as a punching bag. The Wolverines have 12-1 in 13 games against Nebraska in that timeframe with the average margin of victory in those 12 wins being 17.8 points per game. The only loss for the Wolverines came in January, 2018 when Nebraska posted a 72-52 win in Lincoln.

Last year, the two sides met twice with Michigan winning both games- 79-68 at Nebraska on Jan. 28 and 82-58 in Ann Arbor on March 5.

Things to watch for

Michigan’s 62-58 win over Penn State in Ann Arbor on Dec. 13- the last game that the Wolverines played before a scheduled break for final examinations- wasn’t exactly the stuff of legends. The Wolverines turned the ball over twice as much as the Nittany Lions (16 to 8), shot just 35 percent from beyond the 3-point line and trailed with less than three minutes to play. The best part for Michigan, however, was the continued emergence of Hunter Dickinson. The freshman center had 20 points for the Wolverines and grabbed seven rebounds. It made up for a poor shooting game for the rest of the Michigan starting lineup.

Nebraska is coming off a 67-53 loss to Wisconsin that saw the Cornhuskers dominated on the boards by a 40-31 margin. Dalano Banton had a team high 15 for Nebraska, who is 4-4 but with wins over McNeese, North Dakota State, South Dakota and Doane. Teddy Allen leads Nebraska in scoring with 17.4 points a game for the guard-heavy Cornhuskers. Nebraska’s top four scorers- Allen, Banton, Trey McGowens and Kobe Webster- are all listed as guards, although Banton is 6-foot-9.

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