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February 12, 2013

Huskers have rare opportunity vs. No. 1 Indiana



During Monday's Big Ten coaches' teleconference, Nebraska head coach Tim Miles used the 1980 Stanley Kubrick horror film, "The Shining", as the best metaphor to describe the multitude of weapons No. 1 Indiana brings to the table.

Between National Player of the Year candidates Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo alone, the Hoosiers boast a lineup Miles called "nightmarish" to try and shut down. That being said, he also realized the opportunity that could potentially await the Huskers when they travel to take on IU on Wednesday night.

"It's a great opportunity, and it's high risk, high reward," Miles said on Tuesday. "Indiana's a phenomenal team. They've got immense talent, and when we look at it, I think we have to be able to control tempo. That's going to be our only chance. So that's what we're going to try to do."

This will mark the first time Miles has ever coached against a top-ranked team at any level during his 18 seasons as a head coach. It will also be just the 16th time in program history Nebraska will play a No. 1 team, with the most recent being at Kansas on Feb. 6, 2010.

Wednesday night's 6 p.m. CT tip will also be the first time the Huskers have played a No. 1 other than the Jayhawks since falling to Oklahoma in the Big Eight Conference Tournament back on March 9, 1990.

In Nebraska's previous 15 games against top-ranked opponents, its three victories came at Missouri in 1982, at home over Michigan in 1964, and then at home over Kansas State in 1958. Needless to say, upsets of this magnitude have been few and extremely far between for the Huskers.

Even so, senior forward Brandon Ubel said NU needed to bring the same confidence it had in close road losses at Michigan and Michigan State earlier this season if it were to have any shot at shocking the world and knocking off the Hoosiers.

"That's the biggest thing," Ubel said. "You've seen kind of when we've come out and played hesitant and whatnot, and it hasn't turned out real well for us. So we've got to go out there and just play our game, try and execute our stuff and try and shut down their stuff, and just kind of see what happens.

"It's huge. I mean, anytime you can play the No. 1 team in the nation on the road at their place, it's going to be fun."

Coincidentally, Nebraska's biggest conference victory since joining the Big Ten came last year against Indiana in Lincoln, when it pulled off a 70-69 stunner over the then-No. 11 Hoosiers.

However, Miles said he hasn't even bothered to watch any film of that game because of how different both teams were now compared to that game a year ago.

"I haven't watched that game," Miles said. "I watched it last spring, but this is a much-improved team that's got more talent, they're playing better, they defend much better; and we're not the same team. We don't have some of that quickness and some of that scoring punch that they had last year. So I haven't made that comparison."

In his first year as a head coach in the Big Ten, Miles has already gone up against conference teams ranked No. 2, 8, 11, 22 and 23. He knew full well going how talented the league was and that it was arguably the deepest conference in college basketball.

When he and his team take the Assembly Hall court against the nation's top-ranked team on Wednesday night, it will be uncharted territory in Miles' coaching career. If he's ever going to make the Huskers a nationally relevant program, though, he's going to have get used to the fact that games like this are just a part of coaching in the Big Ten.

"Let's talk about the Big Ten: in the last week, the No. 1 team in the country (Indiana) lost to the No. 10 team in our league (Illinois) and stayed No. 1 in the country," Miles said. "So that's a pretty good league. It's a great league. It's a phenomenal league, and we're excited about being a part of it and building a winner and getting ourselves in that same conversation of being nationally ranked, being one of those teams that's in the NCAA Tournament and of course winning when we get there."



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