Dienhart: What Huskers need for NCAA bid

There hasn’t been a better story in the Big Ten this season than Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were projected by most to finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten. Why not? Questions abounded for a team that went 15-18 overall and 5-13 in the Big Ten last season. Now, the Huskers may be sitting squarely on the NCAA bubble. Let’s take a look at Nebraska’s resume.

Nebraska’s stat leaders
Points: T. Petteway 17.7
Rebounds: S. Shields 5.4
Assists: T. Webster 2.2
FG%: T. Petteway 44.4%
FT%: T. Petteway 81.8%
3P%: T. Petteway 37.0%
Steals: D. Biggs 1.0
Blocks: L. Smith 0.8

Numbers are from realtimerpi.com.

  • Record: 14-10 overall; 6-6 Big Ten
  • Strength of schedule: 21
  • RPI: 52
  • Projected record: 18-12; 10-8
  • Quality wins: Georgia (No. 88 RPI); Ohio State (14); Minnesota (46); Indiana (97); Illinois (87); Michigan State (13)
  • Bad losses: UAB (158); Purdue (124); Penn State (108)
  • Big games left: at Illinois; at Indiana; Wisconsin

Bottom line: This is one of the hottest team in the Big Ten, winning three in a row and five of six games. And to think: Nebraska started Big Ten play 0-4. The turnaround has been remarkable. Credit the defense, along with the play of Terran Petteway. Most pundits think if the Cornhuskers can arrive in Indianapolis for the Big Ten tourney with 10 conference wins, they will punch their ticket to the Big Dance with just one win in the league postseason event. But Nebraska may end any NCAA debate by winning out.

It’s true; the Cornhuskers could do it, which would make them 12-6 in the Big Ten. That no doubt would put Nebraska into March Madness, right? The Huskers must guard against suffering any bad losses down the stretch as they search for the program’s first NCAA bid since 1998 under second-year coach Tim Miles. Oh by the way: Nebraska never has won an NCAA game, going 0-6 all-time.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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7 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (7 Comments)
huskerfanbb on 2/20/2014 @ 3:18pm EDT Said:

I don’t think 19 overall wins will do it for Nebraska. If it were Indiana, a Michigan team, or even Purdue who have better national exposure and better history–sure, but this is Nebraska, and it will take 20 wins.

I said in another article that 21 wins would be a lock–but to do that, they’d have to go unbeaten down the stretch and win 1 in the B1G tourney, or go 5 of 6 and two.

20 wins would probably do it, though, so that would mean 5 of 6 and one, or 4 of 6 and two.
Not much margin for error, but possible.

Bob Jones on 2/20/2014 @ 3:59pm EDT Said:

Huskers weren’t just picked in the bottom half of the conference, I believe they were picked last or next to last by just about everyone. Too bad they let a couple games get away from them earlier [ Mich, PSU], or they would be sitting at 8-4 in conference. If they continue to play like they have the last few, Miles has to be seriously considered for coach of the year. Great story and generating a lot of excitement for a school that has underperformed in basketball since the Civil War.

Gary on 2/20/2014 @ 5:19pm EDT Said:

No way, huskerfan. The B1G will get 6 teams and with Minnesota falling to the illini, their remaining schedule doesn’t bode well for a strong finish by playing 3 of 4 teams ranked in the top 25. With a strong finish by Nebraska, 4-2 in the final 6 games, plus a tourney win, they’re gold. Say what you want about the Big Red not being a traditional powerhouse, but fact is, they have the main ingredient any committee is going to side on. Power of the Big Ten. Period.

Gary on 2/20/2014 @ 5:26pm EDT Said:

…also worth mentioning is that it’s EXTREMELY unlikely for another team to steal away 6th place in the B1G from Nebraska. Truth be told they can finish .500 in conference and still hold onto that conference ranking.

CL on 2/20/2014 @ 7:22pm EDT Said:

If Nebraska loses any of their next 3 home games (PSU, Pur, NW), that probably does them in.

As for the two road games (Ill, Ind), 1-1 is a must, but 2-0 would be the only way to protect them should they lose to Wisconsin to end the season.

I think a 6-0 finish (20-10 overall) makes them a lock, a 5-1 closeout makes them pretty safe (unless they have a bad first-round loss in the B1G tourney), but 4-2 would probably require a 2-win B1G tourney, which would mean a QF win over an Iowa, Wisconsin, or OHSt.

Thoughts?

CJ on 2/21/2014 @ 2:31am EDT Said:

I think it will be very hard for the committee to keep a team with a 10-8 record in the Big 10 out of the dance. For that to happen Nebraska would need to finish 3-2 the rest of the way. Granted, at 18-12 I’d say they probably need to win a tourney game to get to 19 wins.

If they go 4-1 the rest of the way they will be in. At that point Nebraska will be 19-11 overall and 11-7 in the Big 10.

Nebraska has the benefit of A: The prestige of B1G bball right now and B: a solid RPI ranking and some good wins as well.

RodgerJordann on 2/26/2014 @ 2:44pm EDT Said:

Got to love those Huskers!!