Photo Credit: John Peterson

Drake’s Takes: Refining Expectations for Women’s Basketball and Looking Forward to the Super Bowl

February 11, 2022

This week’s Drake’s Takes covers the recent performances by the women’s and men’s basketball teams, along with previewing Sunday’s Super Bowl. 

Refining expectations for women’s basketball

On Thursday, Nebraska women’s basketball lost its sixth game of the season, falling to Ohio State 70-80.

Since pulling an upset against No. 8 Michigan on January 4, the Huskers haven’t been able to recreate that magic against any other top teams in the conference. Nebraska is 1-5 now this year against currently ranked Big Ten teams. The team’s only other loss on the season is to Michigan State, which just upset Michigan and also sits above the Huskers in the conference standings. 

This isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Nebraska has cemented itself in the upper half of the conference, with no losses to teams below it in the standings. In addition, the Huskers have shown the ability to be competitive with anyone. 

But with six regular season games left, there’s an adequate amount of information to set expectations for the rest of the season. 

The Huskers are in a great spot to make the NCAA Tournament as things currently stand. ESPN’s Charlie Creme projected Nebraska as a seven seed earlier this week.

In the last six games, the team should aim to continue to win the games it should win. Nebraska’s only remaining game against a ranked opponent is against No. 7 Indiana on Monday. Outside of that, four of the final six contests are against bottom five teams in the Big Ten. 

The one game remaining from that bunch is the season finale at home against Northwestern (13-8, 5-5 in Big Ten play). That may be the most important regular season game remaining. The Wildcats haven’t been bad this season, and winning that game would give the Huskers some momentum heading into the conference tournament.

Nebraska may not end up in the conference championship game, but a quarterfinal appearance is well within range and a spot in the semifinals would be impressive. If all that goes somewhat well, we’ll be seeing the Huskers get the chance to win their first NCAA Tournament game since 2014. 

This is a team with plenty of potential, and it’ll be cool to see how the end of this already-successful season plays out.  

Men’s basketball comes away with a win

While we’re on the topic of basketball, the men’s team came away with its first Big Ten win of the season on Wednesday. 

I only gave the game my full attention for the second half, but it was an impressive effort. 

Admittedly, as the second half started, I was ready to watch another collapse. But it never came. Alonzo Verge Jr. and Bryce McGowens made some impressive plays down the stretch, combining for 38 points. 

As far as bigger picture takeaways, I don’t have all that much. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to expect this to be the start of a strong end to the year. It could be, but that’s a bold claim to make. 

What I will say for certain is something we’ve known for a while — when this team plays well, it’s very fun to watch. There’s another men’s team at Nebraska that sentence reminds me of too. Perhaps someday, we’ll get that fun on a somewhat consistent basis. 

In the final seven regular season games, there’s a few winnable games. It’d be nice to see the Huskers take the momentum from their win over the Golden Gophers and at least be consistently competitive in the final stretch. 

At the very least, I’m going to enjoy watching McGowens play college basketball for another month, given he very well could be on his way to the pros afterwards. 

Super Bowl Sunday

Another thing I’m looking forward to, as many are, is the Super Bowl.

I did not expect the Bengals to make it this far, but I’m happy they did. The Rams are obviously supremely talented, and their trip to this point was great to watch unfold. 

Regardless of who wins, I know I’ll be happy. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are extremely likable players on Cincinnati’s side. Zac Taylor and Stanley Morgan’s connections to Nebraska make them easy to root for. 

Of course, I’d also have to turn on tweet notifications for the always-entertaining Eli Apple. His tweets following the AFC Championship were hilarious and I’d expect more of the same for a Super Bowl win. 

Meanwhile, I’d be extremely happy for Odell Beckham Jr. if the Rams come out victorious. Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford are also talented players that it’d be cool to see earn a ring.  

My official prediction would be the Rams, but I won’t be rooting one way or another on Sunday. I’m simply going to be hoping that this great season of football is capped off with one more amazing game.

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