It is a waiting game for the Husker men’s and women’s basketball teams as Selection Sunday approaches. The women advanced to the Big Ten tournament semi-finals, picking up an all-important win against a ranked team (Michigan) before falling to the Maryland Terrapins for the third time this season in the semis.
The game against the Terps was the least competitive of the three the Huskers played against Maryland in 2018. Maryland’s defense locked down Nebraska’s offense really well. It was only the very good Husker defense that kept the game from getting out of hand.
Janay Morton led the Huskers with 15 points. Maddie Simon had 9 points, Hannah Whitish and Kate Cain each had six. Whitish, along with Nicea Eliely were the team’s leading rebounders with five apiece. It was a lackluster performance, but much credit goes to Maryland’s defense and their preparation. In post game interviews, one of their players basically said “We scouted them well, we knew their tendencies”.
Helping the Husker women (possibly) is that the South Dakota State Jackrabbits knocked of the University of South Dakota for the Summit League auto-bid. The Jacks sat at RPI #30 before the win and did well in a brutal non-conference schedule. They had a great case to make for an at-large bid and would have been competing directly with the Huskers for one of those “bubble” spots. The Coyotes of South Dakota (Amy William’s former team) sat just one spot (#59) ahead of the Huskers in RPI (#60) prior to their loss today. While USD has a case to make for an at-large bid, I think the Huskers have a better one. My Jackrabbits did both of my favorite teams a favor today.
Purdue was another team on the bubble. Their loss in their opening game of the B1G tourney did not help their case. Creighton, Rutgers, and Minnesota are all other teams listed as bubble teams in various outlets. Nebraska beat the Scarlet Knights and Golden Gophers, but lost to the Bluejays, assuming that means anything to a committee. All three of those other teams are in the 40’s in RPI. Rutgers has a 20-12 record overall and finished below .500 (7-9) in the Big Ten for 9th place. The Bluejays played a tough non-con schedule but ended with an 18-12 overall record. It seems hard to believe that the records of either team mean they get picked ahead of the Huskers, but I also admit I don’t fully grasp all of the variables the selection committee uses. Regardless, the SDSU-USD result is probably the critical domino to help Nebraska.
Either way this goes, this women’s team is ahead of schedule in the Amy Williams rebuild. If the incoming freshman class (ranked in the Top 20) can bring some offensive firepower to shore up a very very good defense, this Husker team will be a force in the Big Ten in 2018-19.
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