It's amazing what one little win over Texas can do for you.
On Friday, Nebraska was on NOBODY's NCAA radar. By Saturday night, the wishful thinking had begun. But is it that wishful?
The Huskers are 5-4 right now, and have 3 home games left. All three home games are winnable -- Colorado and Iowa State are struggling mightily on the road, and Texas A&M is sitting at a woeful 3-6 in conference. But that's just enough to get the Huskers to 8-8 (and a likely decent NIT seed). The Huskers will have to get AT LEAST to 9-7 if they want to go dancing, and probably 10-6 to not sweat heavily on Selection Sunday. Mark Shlabach on ESPN.com's Bubble Watch sums up Nebraska's resume nicely:
Nebraska [15-7 (5-4), RPI: 69, SOS: 61] The Cornhuskers' body of work looks similar to Kansas State's résumeacute;. Nebraska's best victories came against Missouri and Texas, and it has won three games in a row to get back into the bubble picture. But Nebraska still has much work to do. Like the Wildcats, the Cornhuskers have little to show from their nonconference schedule. They have a so-so victory over Creighton, but six of their 10 nonconference wins came against teams ranked No. 200 or lower in the RPI ratings. Worse, Nebraska lost to RPI No. 212 UMBC 66-64 on Dec. 23.
So, the Huskers are going to need to get some road wins or make a really deep run in the Big XII tournament to make the Dance. I think one road game is certainly winnable -- Baylor. The Bears are really struggling at 3-7 in league, and could be 6-9 or worse going into the final game against NU, which could give them very little to play for.
The trip to KU is hard to imagine the Huskers winning. NU has won in Lawrence exactly once in my lifetime, in 1999. If the Huskers can win this one, it would be huge for their tournament hopes.
The big question marks are this Saturday's game against Mizzou and two Saturdays from now at Kansas State. Nebraska has already beat both these teams this season, and a sweep over either would be huge. Can they do it?
- Nebraska has won 2 straight in Columbia, and Doc is 6-2 against Mike Anderson. Missouri is coming off a huge, emotional, last-second win over their arch-rival, and may be a little hung-over. For some reason, this matchup has favored NU lately.
- Kansas State will be coming off a mid-week trip to Mizzou, and remembering the 22-point shellacking in Lincoln earlier this year. Nebraska has 2 wins in Manhattan this decade.
I think the Huskers could win either of these games, but I'm not sure they will. That said, the fact that we can have this discussion with the smallest team in Division I two months after losing to Maryland-Baltimore County, is pretty impressive. Of course, we could easily win BOTH those games, turn around and lose at home to Colorado and Iowa State. Such is the plight of Husker hoops.
I'm going to stand by my 8-8 conference prediction for the time being, but I think that the first winning conference record in a decade is easily within reach.
Joe Ganz inspires, Fran Fraschilla praises Huskers
The Journal-Star has an interesting story today, about something Paul Velander heard Joe Ganz say, which he's brought to the Husker Basketball locker room: "Live within the team."
The same story also references Fran Fraschilla's Feb. 9 blog entry where he praises Doc Sadler's work at Nebraska. Fran took a rare opportunity to watch a Husker practice, and he was full of kind words. I won't say too much about it; take a chance to read it for yourself.
What do you think of the Huskers' post-season chances?
Dancing in the NCAA Tournament (14 votes)
NIT-bound (75 votes)
Chillin' in the CBI (1 vote)
Going to that other new tournament (4 votes)
Staying home (8 votes)
102 total votes