Nebraska Basketball vs Maine: Scouting the Black Bears

Bradley's Ari Boya, left, defends against Maine's Chris Efretuei
Bradley's Ari Boya, left, defends against Maine's Chris Efretuei /

The Nebraska basketball officially tips off its 2022-23 season on Monday night against the Maine Black Bears. The real question is whether or not Husker fans should be girding their loins for another season-opening loss.

Inconsistency has been the only real consistency for the Huskers under Fred Hoiberg. To his credit, the Nebrasketball head coach seems to understand that. He’s made a rather big deal about the fact that all the new faces that will be on the court this year will actually lead to a more consistent style of play.

The Cornhuskers will definitely get to show that at least this team is running both an offense and a defense that is more controllable. That can adjust when things aren’t going well and that can spread the ball around the court when need be. In fact, it’s possible that the Nebraska basketball team couldn’t have hoped for a better opening night opponent in order to iron out the kinks.

Nebraska basketball opponent picked to finish last in its conference

The first thing to know about the Maine Black Bears is that this is hardly a mid-major power. It has in fact a program that has not posted a winning record since the 2008-09 season. It hasn’t won as many as 10 games since 2013.

That of course, doesn’t guarantee success for the Nebrasketball team. After all, they opened the 2021-22 season with a loss to a Western Illinois squad that went 7-15 the previous campaign. Playing a struggling program doesn’t always equal a win for the Cornhuskers’ basketball team. That stretches well beyond Hoiberg’s era. Tim Miles’ home loss to Incarnate Word still stings, after all.

Maine reshaped its roster in the offseason

While the Black Bears have been mostly bad for over a decade, they’re looking for a fresh start with a fresh head coach in former Maine player Chris Markwood. Before taking over the helm, Markwood has had successful stints at schools throughout the northeast, including Boston College as well as conference rival and powerhouse Vermont.

Markwood also has a spate of new players on his roster as the team’s top three players all decided to transfer after his predecessor was fired. In many ways, Maine’s roster will have a lot in common with the Nebraska basketball team in the number of new faces that will make up its starting five. Of course, the talent level should be quite a bit lower than the Huskers.

Maine’s top player and the man who Markwood will likely run his offense through will be  Gedi Juozapaitis a transfer from Georgia Southern who averaged 7.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 16 starts for the Eagles. LeChaun DuHart will also be leaned on heavily. The guard missed most of the season last year with a torn meniscus. He’s averaging 9.5 points per game over parts of two seasons in his Maine career.

Nebraska basketball vs. Maine prediction and final word

This is not one of those season openers that is supposed to give the Nebraska Cornhuskers much trouble. ESPN currently gives the Huskers a 92.7 percent chance at victory.

Likewise, KenPom has Maine with just a 2 percent chance at a win and predicts an 84-61 romp for the Huskers. Interestingly enough, this game should be a much better tuneup for the Black Bears than the Huskers.

According to Ken Pom, the only team’s on Maine’s schedule that will be better than the Nebraska basketball squad it faces off against tonight will be Ohio State and Vermont.