Northwestern vs Nebraska Big Ten Tournament Picks and Predictions: ...Don't Fade Nebraska?

The Cornhuskers closed conference play on a tear and look like a new team. We're leaning their way on the spread, but have an even better wager in mind for college basketball bettors with our Northwestern vs. Nebraska Big Ten Tournament picks.

Last Updated: Mar 9, 2022 9:34 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Trey McGowens Nebraska Cornhuskers Big Ten Tournament
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Northwestern Wildcats finished the Big Ten slate with just four wins in their final nine games – two of those victories coming against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. These foes clash for a third time in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament Wednesday.

The Huskers may have finished second-last in the conference standings with a 4-16 mark, but closed out the schedule with a bang, winning three straight games on the road, including a victory at Wisconsin. The NCAA basketball betting odds have the Cornhuskers as 4.5-point underdogs inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Here are our free college basketball picks and predictions for Nebraska vs. Northwestern on March 9.

Northwestern vs Nebraska odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

Having two wins over Nebraska, the Wildcats opened as big as 5.5-point favorites. But with the status of Huskers star freshman Bryce McGowens leaning toward him playing in the tournament opener, this spread has slimmed to Northwestern -4.5. The total hit the board as high as 146.5 and has since slimmed to 144 points.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.

Northwestern vs Nebraska predictions

Predictions made on 3/9/2022 at 8:55 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Northwestern vs Nebraska game info

Location: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Tip-off: 6:00 p.m. ET

Northwestern at Nebraska betting preview


Northwestern: None.
Nebraska: Bryce McGowens G (Questionable).

Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Cornhuskers are 4-0 ATS in their last four games as underdogs. Find more NCAA betting trends for Northwestern vs. Nebraska.

Northwestern vs Nebraska picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

How do we judge Fred Hoiberg’s Cornhuskers entering the Big Ten tournament? Nebraska concluded conference play with three road wins in a row, including quality victories at Ohio State and Wisconsin in the final two games.

The victory against the Badgers is especially impressive, given the Huskers were without star freshman Bryce McGowens and lost starting guard Trey McGowens to a flagrant ejection in the second half of that contest. 

This three-game run has seen the Cornhuskers’ often frantic pace find focus, boasting an effective field goal rate of 61.9% - a major uptick over their season mark of 50.5%. Nebraska runs the fastest tempo in the Big Ten (18th-fastest in the country) but has slowed down considerably during this span, and it’s showing in efficiency as well as mentally.

Defense has also been sharp for Nebraska, checking those past three opponents to a collective 41.7% shooting clip. Scoring at a more efficient rate has allowed the Huskers to pick up defensively at halfcourt rather than finding themselves battling transition attacks looking to score off Nebraska’s misses and mistakes.

The Wildcats made the most of those errors in the two games against the Cornhuskers, benefitting from a total of 30 turnovers in those contests. Northwestern posted scores of 77 and 87 points in those meetings (shooting a collective 49%) – two of the team’s top outputs during conference play and well above its scoring average of 73 points per game.

Not much separates these two in the standings, other than a few Wildcats wins over the conference’s basement teams. McGowens is trending toward playing and senior guard Alonzo Verge is playing his best ball of the season. It’s very tough to beat a team three times in one season. Nebraska may go down, but it’ll go down swinging.

Prediction: Nebraska +4.5 (-110)

Over/Under analysis

As proven during this winning streak, the Huskers offense can travel. Nebraska has actually played three of its best games in enemy territory, using its tempo to put defenses on their heels and getting to the rim rather than settling for mid-range and perimeter looks.  

As mentioned, that uptick in field goal percentage and efficiency (1.212 offensive rating over past three games – ninth in the country) has helped out on defense, with Nebraska forcing foes to inbound the ball and giving the defense time to get back in the halfcourt set.

The Wildcats are a team that creates a lot of offense off turnovers, forcing 13.5 per game and averaging seven steals per contest. However, Northwestern isn’t great when slowed down and forced to play halfcourt basketball, shooting just 41.1% on 2-point field goal attempts over the past three games. 

Northwestern is often reliant on the 3-pointer as well, picking up 36.7% of points from beyond the arc in the three games coming into the tournament and finishing as the third most triple-dependent team in the Big Ten. 

Nebraska has limited its last three foes to a combined 28.8% clip from beyond the arc for an average of seven per game in that span, compared to nine per outing before this streak. 

Prediction: Under 144 (-110)

Best bet

If you’re still not buying into this new-look Nebraska team, at least consider the Wildcats to stay Under their team total.

Northwestern will not have the same ease on offense as it did in the first two meetings and will surely stay below the 13 total 3-pointers it hit in each of those outings. 

The Wildcats offense finished 12th in efficiency rating inside the conference and that metric dips to 0.982 outside of Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Granted this is a neutral-site matchup, but Northwestern has been hard-pressed to top Wednesday’s team total of 74.5 points in many of its trips off campus and this third meeting with Nebraska will be played at a more methodical pace than the previous two tempos.

Pick: Northwestern Team Total Under 74.5 (-106) 

College basketball parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed our Northwestern vs. Nebraska picks, you could win $60.83 on a $10 bet?

Use our college basketball parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

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