Nebraska Cornuskers (16-10, 6-7) at Kansas State Wildcats (19-9, 7-6)
7 PM, Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, KS
TV: Big 12 Network, ESPN FullCourt/360 (affiliates), Radio: Husker Sports Network
Opponents' Blog: Bring on the Cats
It's time that we think back and remember just what our realistic expectations for this season were. Personally, I thought that our schedule stacked up nicely for an 8-8 Big XII finish, if we won the games we should. I didn't really think that we would ever seriously be considered for an NCAA Tournament Berth. Yet, here we were a couple weeks ago, being seriously considered at least a bubble team for the big dance.
Realistically, this team lacks a primary scoring threat. Ade Dagunduro is a great defensive player and a solid scorer, but he's really built to be a #2 guy. There simply isn't a #1 guy. Roburt Sallie was supposed to be that guy, but the Big XII wouldn't let him play; now, he's contributing off the bench for a loaded Memphis squad. There's also no big man: Brian Diaz couldn't get into school until 4 games into Big XII play, Chris Niemann was forced to redshirt by the NCAA, and Chris Balham's knees have severely limited his minutes. The result? Weak rebounding and difficult scoring through zones.
So, why are we so upset that a team that we knew would have difficulty scoring and rebounding has struggled lately against teams that are, at least on paper, far more talented? Because we've seen that, despite all those shortcomings, this team plays far better than its talent level, and hang with some of the best teams in the country (including Oklahoma and a win over current number 8 Missouri).
But, the whole point of this was to urge perspective. Sure, this team could very easily have been 10-3 or 9-4 in conference, but they could just as easily have been 3-10.
Tonight, the Huskers head to Bramlage Coliseum, where they haven't won since 2005. Earlier, the Huskers demolished Kansas State when the Wildcats looked D.O.A. in the Big XII. Now, Kansas State is playing much better (blowout loss to red-hot Mizzou notwithstanding). The loser of this game essentially sees their at-large hopes go bye-bye; the winner clings to life for another few days.