In about 7 days, the country will be immersed in the most exciting, fast-paced, tree-killing, corporate productivity-wasting, head-slapping, money-exchanging, seizure inducing, "I can't watch 8 screens at once for Pete's sake!, basketball tournament known to man. This is the only time of the year when so many people, who know so little about a sport, spend so much time watching it. It's like a coke-fueled frenzy of sports fanaticism. The NFL playoffs on speed. The World Series on fast-forward. The last desperate attempt to squeeze enjoyment out of competitive sports until we slowly ease into baseball season, and proceed to not give a damn about the NBA Playoffs again.
But before that happens, we have the conference tourneys.
Each conference will sort out their own house, and determine what teams they will be sending to the bloodbath known as March Madness. I love this time of year. LOVE IT. The god-forsaken Iowa cold is finally losing it's death grip, the grass is showing through what used to be mountains of snow, thoughts of lying by the pool sneaking peeks of tanned skin in bikinis.....ahhh. Throw in a major basketball tournament and a printed office pool bracket, and you have one damn good reason to feel that life is worth living again. As happens every year, the excitement will cause me to don my old Creighton sweatshirt, inflate my dusty flacid basketball, and head down to the local park to shoot hoops. I'm even considering buying a bigger television just for the occasion. ( Thank you tax man!)
(more after jump)
To be a part of the psychotic yearly tradition (yes, psychotic...how else would you describe men and women who have not watched college ball all season, yet put money on teams like Sienna, Dayton, Butler, and Valpraiso? Wofford is in the dance, ever heard of 'em? Didn't think so..) Nebraska will need to accomplish something never before done in the annals of Cornhusker basketball. Or Big 8/Big 12 basketball for that matter. The Huskers will need to win the league tournament, whilst being given the worst seed. In a conference with 12 teams, the #12 seed doesn't bode well if you're looking for a spot in the dance. Especially when your conference has an RPI of #1.
Nebraska drew Missouri as it's first round opponent, a team we were not able to beat this year. (Okay, I know...that goes for almost everybody). Nebraska hung tight with the Tigers on January 23rd, and led in the first half before the wheels came off, and Missouri won by 17. February 20th saw the Huskers put in another good effort, leading in the second half only to take a nap yet again, and lose by 15.
Something will have to change in Kansas City on Wednesday night, or the Big Red will be done for the year. Sorry guys, but you will not be invited to the NIT tournament this year, despite the word "invitation" hidden within it's name. This will be it, until next winter. So just for fun, let's take a quick look at what Nebraska woud have to do, in order to reach the NCAA tournament:
Nebraska would have to start by upsetting Missouri, in what is essentially a home game for the Tigers. Don't expect to see the hordes of Husker fans travelling down to support this team after going 2-14 in the conference. Most of the attention will be on the ladies this year...sorry guys. According to www.teamrankings.com, the Huskers have a 16.14% chance of winning this game versus last year's conference champion. The Huskers managed to stick with Missouri in both games this year, but lost steam down the stretch. Losing it's focus at the 10 minute mark has been Nebraska's achilles heel this year, so keeping it close until the final 3-4 minutes is critical.
If a miracle does occur Wednesday night in K.C., the Big Red would then face the #4 seeded Texas A+M Aggies. Again, according to www.teamrankings.com, the Huskers have just a 2.39% chance of winning a quarter-final game. This matchup would be a bit more challenging for Nebraska than Missouri, as the Huskers lost their only game with the Ag's by 11. But, we only lost by 11? True, but this was the first conference game of the year...and these two teams have gone in opposite directions since then. Nebraska would have to play perfect here.
Which would then bring us to the reality check game, known as top-seeded Kansas. ( Assuming they beat the winner of Tech/Colorado) Nebraska is given just an 0.08% chance of winning a semi-final game. Sound about right? A win here would be like David versus Goliath. Actually, more like if David was blindfolded with a gimp arm, and Goliath drove a machine gun mounted HumVee with Mark McGwire injecting him from the passenger seat. I know, I know...we had leads on Kansas in the second half of both games this year. Didn't matter though, we lost both by double digits. Kind of like a dog fooling about with a rabbit until the rabbit gets a good bite in, and the dog decides "screw this", and proceeds to crush the animals neck in 0.05 seconds just to prove a point.
What if we win that game? Pull of a miracle? Well, at that point we could face either Kansas State, Baylor, or Oklahoma State. I think that KSU is the best team in the conference, so my money would be on the 'Cats. Of those 3 teams, OSU was the only opponent to handle us easily. We pushed both KSU and Baylor to the final buzzer, which would be a good sign...if we could just manage to get to that game. The odds of winning this game, and the tournament championship? 0.01%
There you have it. The odds are stacked against us, wouldn't you say? Here are some other random events that share the Big Red's odds of winning the Big 12 title:
-Being injured by a toilet this year.
-Finding a four-leaf clover on the first try.
-Bowling a 300 game.
-Winning the Medal of Honor
-Winning an Oscar
Since I have never really been close to achieving any of these feats, I will not be holding my breath for an NCAA appearance by the Nebraska men. But hey, I once had a pretty tough time negotiating with a truck stop toilet after a night of drinking. In the end it was just my pride that was injured, but that counts...right?
Tipoff: 3pm CST
Venue: Sprint Center - Kansas City, MO
Television: Big 12 Network ( check http://www.big12sports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10410&ATCLID=1523659 for a listing of local affiliates) and ESPN Fullcourt
Radio: Husker Sports Network ( Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison )
Internet Radio/Stats: www.Huskers.com
Preview/Live updates: www.CornNation.com