Nebraska/Ohio State preview

Nebraska and Ohio State will square up for third time this season on Friday, with major NCAA implications for both teams.

LINCOLN, Neb. - Winners of 10 out of the last 12 contests, Nebraska will take on No. 24 Ohio State in the quarter-finals of the Big Ten tournament today.

The question is – has Nebraska peaked?

At 19-11 overall and an RPI in the low 40s, another win could potentially lock up a NCAA tournament bid, despite most experts feeling the Huskers win or lose are in on Selection Sunday.

"I still don't think we have played our best game," said head coach Tim Miles. "Hopefully we can see that happen in the near future when it means something."

The Buckeyes (24-8) are coming off a 63-61 win over Purdue on Thursday in the first round of Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State was paced by LaQuinton Ross' 19 points and 15 rebounds. A win by the Buckeyes could vastly improve their seeding in the tournament next week.

Friday's matchup between Nebraska and Ohio State will be the third this season, with both teams taking their home contest.

"They beat us this year already. I'm pretty sure they think they can beat us again," Ohio State guard Lenzell Smith Jr. told after the contest. "If we come with our mind right, I think they got something different in store."

One thing is for sure, Shields is peaking:

Nebraska sophomore Shavon Shields is co-Big Ten Player of the Week and seems to be playing his best basketball at the right time.

The forward is averaging 20 points and seven rebounds over the last three contests – all Nebraska wins.

Just minutes after seeing his Wisconsin squad fail to shut down Shields (26 points) on Sunday, head coach Bo Ryan was asked about the sophomore.

"Well, you can simulate what some guys do in practice, but we had a couple guys who just didn't shut some things down on the angles," said Ryan. "Once it gets started, a guy feels he can do anything."

In a 68-62 win over the Buckeyes earlier in the year, Shields led all scorers with 18 points and nine rebounds – finding a way to get inside the lane.

Increasing his scoring average to double-digits this season (12.4 ppg.), the Kansas native has become one of the best drivers in the Big Ten and has shown an ability to withstand contact.

"He's strong, much stronger," said Miles. "He looked like a strong kid last year because of his physical build, but he's physically stronger this year. He was also a one-directional driver last year, which worried me. Now he's able to move and counter, which makes him better. He's able to keep his balance. Anytime you can do that, you're pretty good."

Tip-off between Nebraska and Ohio State is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. from Indianapolis. The Huskers are four-point underdogs. is on hand and will be providing Nebraska post-game video after the contest.

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