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Nebraska Basketball: The Road to March Madness

Take a look at how Nebraska will make the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

Terran Petteway will look to lead the Huskers to victory
Terran Petteway will look to lead the Huskers to victory
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

200-1, those are the odds given for Nebraska to be able to do the unthinkable and win the BIG basketball tournament.  In the 2013 tournament, Nebraska had odds of 500-1 to win. If Nebraska got past the second round, it would be considered a success in most people’s opinions. Could Nebraska pull off March Madness and shock the conference and steal a bid?

Nebraska vs Penn State

On Wednesday afternoon, the Huskers will face the Penn State Nittany Lions. Nebraska lost to Penn State in Happy Valley after an abysmal shooting performance in the first half. Nebraska on paper has more talent than the Nittany Lions, but KenPom gives the Nittany Lions the edge.

While I believe that neither team will shoot as abysmal as they shot in Happy Valley, the Huskers have better marquee wins against Michigan State and Cincinnati compared to the Nittany Lions marquee victory over George Washington. Look for the Huskers to be physical inside and get to the foul line often. Big games from Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway carry the Huskers to a close win over the Lions.

Final Score Nebraska 64 Penn State 58

Nebraska vs Iowa

So then comes the 5th seeded Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes did not play well in their finale on Saturday. They beat Northwestern, and the beat the Huskers in Lincoln by 28 points. Chalk that up to some shady Husker defense, and a general lack of caring.

So why would the Huskers beat the Hawkeyes? Because the 12 seed has won in 15/28 games played in the NCAA tournament in the last 7 years. KenPom predicts if the Huskers to make it this far that they will lose. Let’s flip a coin. If the Huskers get lucky, they move on to Friday. Expect Leslee Smith to be key in shutting down Aaron White. Huskers pull out a squeaker and fans start to question where has this team been all year.

Score Prediction Nebraska 73 Iowa 71

Nebraska vs Purdue

Then comes the big scary A.J. Hammons and a bunch of dudes who decided they would play at a school where their mascot is a train. Purdue has overachieved this season. Purdue is not a favorite of KenPom, as they have only a 41.9% chance to advance to the semi-finals. Nebraska actually had an 8-3 lead at Purdue, then as has been occurring all too often this season, the dreaded field goal drought appeared.

If the Huskers make it to this point, they know how to shoot the ball and the corner has possibly finally turned. Nebraska may struggle at some point, but manages to pressure Purdue into 20 turnovers in route to an upset. Petteway throws a lob to Pitchford with a minute left to seal the victory.

Score Prediction Nebraska 68 Purdue 61

As much as I would like to say Derrick Walton comes back from Injury and helps Michigan knock off Wisconsin, I just can’t see it happening. This means the Huskers have a Saturday afternoon meeting the Badgers.

Nebraska vs Wisconsin

Wisconsin is in no matter what happens. Nebraska comes out inspired in the first half as Petteway is now on a hot shooting streak. Nick Fuller gets in the action and Benny Parker defends out of his mind. Frank Kaminsky gets his and the Badgers lead at the break.

Tim Miles makes a passionate speech to his team at halftime on how Frank the Tank is soft and they can drive to the rim. Shields attacks Kaminsky, and Kaminsky gets T’d up when he doesn’t like a foul call, resulting in him to foul out of the game with three minutes to go. With Kaminsky gone, Petteway throws another lob to Pitchford, causing the Haymarket to experience an earthquake. After a Wisconsin timeout Sam Dekker drives the lane but Parker is there and Teddy Valentine calls Dekker for a charge. Nebraska goes on to make its free throws and the Sunday watch party is on.

Score Prediction Nebraska 81 Wisconsin 70

Championship Sunday

Nebraska vs Maryland: The Third Installment

Nebraska and Maryland have played two close contests already this season, as the Huskers played arguably their two most complete games but dropped both contests to the Terrapins. It is extremely hard to beat a team three times in the same season.

Nebraska gets off to an extremely slow start, as the Huskers have played games the previous four days. Petteway is extremely tired, and is short arming a majority of shots. Dez Wells pulls off a monster windmill and earns a technical for doing so. The Huskers are down by 13 in the first half. Benny Parker is ineffective against Melo Trimble who has a dozen alone in the first half, and the Huskers are down 39-23 at the break.

The Huskers have a special visitor at halftime, as Larry the Cable Guy shows up, showing how Lincoln had turned into a giant watch party. Downtown is closed, as there is a block party for Nebraska basketball. The kids take notice, and with a minor defensive adjustment, they believe they can get back into the game.

Tai Webster moves over to guard Melo Trimble and the Huskers employ a full court press which confuses Maryland. Pitchford gets into a rhythm that has been missing all season, as he effectively plays both inside and outside. Pitchford hits a pair of triples, while Petteway adds two old fashion three point plays to cut the lead to 8.

With extra defensive attension shifted to Pitchford, Shields starts working his outside game, hitting a pair of elbow jumpers to pull the Huskers within a pair at the 2 minute mark. The Huskers, still using a full court press lose contain, and Wells goes for the slam until it is rejected by Petteway. Pitchford grabs the ball, and the lob to Webster ties the game.

After a Maryland timeout, Wells has the ball and is fouled by Webster on a reach in. Miles is visibly heartbroken, as Wells heads to the line for a pair. After Wells hits the pair with 5.4 left on the clock, Petteway races up court with the ball. He pulls up, but instead passes to Pitchford on the wing. Dez Wells can’t get there, the ball is up and is long off the backboard and in. The Huskers have shocked the Terrapins 70-69.

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