|Nebraska G Dylan Talley will be counted on to lead the Cornhuskers this season. (US Presswire)|
Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last year: 12-18 overall, 4-14 Big Ten (11th)
Coach: Tim Miles (first year; 17th overall, 283-220)
Projected starters: G Dylan Talley, Sr. (8.9 ppg; 3.3 rpg, 1.8 apg); G Ray Gallegos, Jr. (2.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg); F David Rivers, Soph. (1.1 ppg, 0.8 rpg); F Brandon Ubel, Sr. (6.7 ppg; 5.3 rpg; 1.3 apg); C Andre Almeida, Sr. (5.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg).
Top newcomer: G Deverell Biggs. The junior college transfer was the first in-state player to sign with the Cornhuskers since 2001. The 6-foot, 174-pounder was a NJCAA All-American and averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He had eight games with at least five steals last season.
Key losses: The Cornhuskers waved goodbye to their top two scorers from last season. Gs Bo Spencer (15.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and Toney McCray (9.9 ppg, 4.6 prg) each graduated and overall, the team lost four starters from last year's team.
What you need to know: Miles, who came from Colorado State to the Big Ten, led the Rams to three consecutive postseason tournaments, including an NCAA tournament berth last season. He also had two 20-win seasons at his previous stop at South Dakota State. Miles has had success, but it will take time with a thin roster and low expectations.
Mark the calendar:
- Dec. 3 vs. Southern Cal: The Cornhuskers posted one of their better wins last season when they upset the Trojans 64-61 in double overtime. However, Southern Cal star G Maurice Jones (13 ppg) transferred and Nebraska should have another shot to beat the Pac-12 squad.
- Dec. 6 vs. Creighton: The rival Bluejays claimed a 76-66 win in Omaha last year and No. 16 Creighton returns star F Doug McDermott (22.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg) who is a national player of the year candidate. This could be an early signature win for Miles.
- Jan. 22 vs. Illinois: This was one of the few Big Ten teams the Cornhuskers could hang with last season. The Fighting Illini lost in Lincoln 80-57 and Nebraska came up just short on the road with a 59-54 defeat. Illinois also is under a first-year coach in John Groce and this could be the start of a new rivalry.
Biggest question: Who will score? With four lost starters and three walk-ons potentially playing key roles this team will likely struggle to but the ball in the basket. This was a big issue under former coach Doc Sadler and likely will continue as Miles tries to rebuild his roster. The team averaged 60.9 points per game last year -- ranking 308th nationally.
Best-case scenario: Miles inspires his troops with a more fast-paced approach and pulls a few upsets in Big Ten play after going .500 against a difficult nonconference schedule. It's enough to raise hopes of Cornhuskers fans heading into next season as the team falls only two games shy of being eligible for a postseason tournament.
Worst-case scenario: A lack of depth and experience is far too much for this team to overcome. Miles doesn't return a double-digit scorer from last year. The season features a few narrow wins, but far too many blowout losses as Miles continues to implement his system. Things will get worse before they get better in Lincoln as the team wins a mere eight games.
Reality: It's going to be a tough year. Miles is an engaging, energetic coach who should help maintain momentum moving into the $179 million Pinnacle Bank Arena next year despite a losing record. But it won't be easy. The Cornhuskers haven't finished ranked higher than 74 in RPI each of the past five seasons and don't expect this year to be any different.
Season opens: vs. Southern, Nov. 11, 7 p.m. ET
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big Ten bloggers Dave Carey and Mike Singer, follow @CBSSportsBigTen.