And we’re back as we continue our countdown of the top ten players and wins of the past decade. Up today is our final column in our end of the decade countdown as we revisit the top five wins of the 2010’s. Up already were our top ten through six players here, top five players here, top five worst moments here, and top ten through six wins yesterday here.
As for how we made our list, our criteria was a mixture of how important the win was in terms of a given season, the strength of the opponent, where the game took place, and if there was any special significance to the game (given, for example, the conference and arena changes of the past decade).
As a reminder, the wins we have so far are:
10. Butler Bulldogs in the 2019 NIT
9. #24 Missouri Tigers in the final home Big 12 game
8. #11 Indiana Hoosiers in the final home game at the Devaney Center
7. #23 Michigan Wolverines as the final Big Ten team to beat, 2018
6. #7 Ohio State Buckeyes in the first conference win at PBA in 2014
So without further ado, let’s take a look at our final five in the countdown!
5. #11 Michigan State Spartans, 72-71 Win, 2015-2016 Season
January 20, 2016, The Breslin Center, Attendance: 14,797 (100.3% Capacity)
For our first game in today’s list we go back to the second-biggest road upset of the decade, which is tied for the third highest ranked team upset by our Huskers. The Cornhuskers took down Michigan State in a nail biter at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, winning 72-71 off a Shavon Shield short range jumper with 20 seconds left that put the game just out of reach. This game was a competitive one throughout with 10 lead changes, and no lead throughout larger than 8. It was also the fourth straight win in a row for Nebraska, third road game in a row, and third straight win over MSU. Seven steals by the Huskers helped make the difference when three point shooting was a mere 29%.
This game relied on a heroic effort by an injured Shavon Shields as well. Shields left the game late in the first half with a hip injury, but was cleared over half-time to return to the court. And oh boy did Shields make an impact in this one as he lead Nebraska with 28 points while shooting 60% from two-point range. The Huskers also out-rebounded Michigan State on the defensive end, a rare feat in the Breslin Center. This was an MSU team that finished 2nd in the conference and was the runner-up in the conference tournament. They entered the NCAA tournament as a 2 seed, and a common pick to win it all thanks in part to National Player of the Year (per NACB and AP) Denzel Valentine. However, this particular night Sparty ended with a loss to Nebraska. Hence why this game falls at number five on our list.
4. #21 Maryland Terrapins, 69-61 Win, 2018-2019 Season
Big Ten Tournament, Second Round, March 14, 2019, United Center, Attendance: 16,207 (77.5% Capacity)
A short-handed Nebraska team with only seven players? Check.
Second game in as many days on a bare bones roster? Check.
A Maryland team who finished 5th in the conference and was a last second no-call travel by LSU away from a Sweet 16 big and coming into this match-up well rested? Check.
Clearly, if it wasn’t obvious by the fact this game is on our list, none of that mattered in the end. Thirteen-seed Nebraska came into this game hungry. They seized the lead for good (minus a brief tie for 22 second later in the first-half) on a free throw by James Palmer Jr. at the 12:13 mark in the first half and never looked back. Every single Husker on the roster got a rebound and Nebraska finished tied at 33 rebounds each with Maryland. While 36% shooting from three and 48% shooting from two point range on tired legs helped make the difference for Nebraska on offense, equally important was the hard-nosed defense that held the Terps to a paltry 36% shooting overall from the floor.
As for the short-handed roster, James Palmer Jr. led the team with 24 points, Glynn Watson Jr. scored 19, and Isaiah Roby added 15. All three led the team in assists with three apiece. Tanner Borchardt got the start and led the team in boards with 9 over 26 minutes. But of course it was Johnny Trueblood who warmed our hearts coming off the bench as the walk-on for 25 minutes, hauling in 4 rebounds, adding 5 points, and dishing out 2 assists. Overall this team had us feeling for a moment like anything was possible and maybe the Huskers might finally make it to a Saturday game in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time ever (and that includes prior to Maryland and Rutgers joining and expanding play to include Wednesdays). While that bubble burst against Wisconsin the next day, this game still had a magic feeling in the most magic of basketball months. So with March Madness taking our hearts with this win, we pick the Maryland upset from last season’s Big Ten Tournament as our number four.
3. #9 Michigan State Spartans, 60-51 Win, 2013-2014 Season
February 16, 2014, The Breslin Center, Attendance: 14,797 (100.3% Capacity)
Go ahead and scoff at two MSU games making this list, but they are well justified picks. This is tied as the highest ranked opponent Nebraska has beaten this decade. Not only that, this game was on the road in one of the top venues in college basketball. The opponent was a legitimate national title contender that fell just short in the Elite-8 to eventual champ the UConn Huskies, and Nebraska went in and spanked them in their own arena, 60-51. So yeah, this one is going to be ranked awfully high on the decade as a result. Not only that, this game kicked-off a three game win streak by Tim Miles over the Spartans, and those three wins are the only wins in conference play Nebraska has against MSU (3-9 against Sparty since joining the Big Ten). Overall Nebraska is 9-17 all-time against MSU, and Miles’ three game win streak is the longest by Nebraska in the series (MSU’s current 5 game streak is the longest by either in the series, and bests MSU’s previous two best streaks of four wins in a row).
Sparty only had two brief moments in the middle of the first-half where they took a lead in this game, but otherwise it was all Huskers. Nebraska had 7 steals in this one, shot 30% from three going 9-30, and out-rebounded MSU on the offensive glass 10-9 (a rare, rare occurrence for most any team in the Izzo era). Terran Petteway led the Huskers with 23 points, while Walter Pitchford chipped in with 18. So for going into the Breslin Center and getting the biggest road upset of the decade, this game comes in at number three on our countdown.
2. Creighton Bluejays, 86-46 Win, 2018-2019 Season
December 8, 2018, Pinnacle Bank Arena, Attendance: 15,950 (102.9% Capacity)
The 2010’s were not kind to the Huskers in the Creighton rivalry series. Overall, Nebraska managed a mere 2 wins this decade, both in Lincoln, and lost 8 total games including 7 straight (a new Creighton win streak record). The only other win for Nebraska was in 2010 by 5 points. So this one was an easy game to pick given Nebraska vented a decade of disappointment’s pent up frustration in a 19 point blow-out win over the Bluejays. However, that doesn’t come close to the all-time margin in a win by Nebraska, who demolished Creighton by 40 in 1981, winning 86-46.
Just about everything went right for the Huskers in this match-up. The team shot 52% from three, going 14-27. They shot 80% from the free throw line, 16-20. From the field they shot 53%. They won the glass 24-18, while getting 9 steals while keeping turnovers down to only 10. Five players scored in double-digits, with James Palmer Jr. leading the way with 30. Nothing is more sweet than Jaysker tears, and that’s why our #24 Nebraska Cornhuskers blow-out win comes in at number 2 on our top ten countdown!
Honorable Mention: #14 Minnesota Golden Gophers, 78-68 Win, 2017-2018 Season
Dec. 5, 2017, Pinnacle Bank Arena, Attendance: 15,598 (100.6% Capacity)
Before we get to the number one win of the last decade on this list, let’s check out the game we decided fell just short. And that honor goes to Minnesota’s early December visit to the Vault during the 2017-2018 season. The Gophers were ranked 14th at the time, were 8-1 coming into the match-up, and seemed a conference contender at the time (before injuries just decimated the roster and they went on to a 4-14 conference record, and 15-17 overall getting bounced in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament by Rutgers). Nebraska struggled with shooting in this one, only managing 29% from three and 47% from the field. However, going 22-28 from the free throw line helped the Huskers big time.
Nebraska won the boards battle overall 42-38, and defensively out-rebounded Minnesota 33-23. Glynn Watson Jr. lit up the Gophers to the tune of 29 points and 9 rebounds, leading the Huskers in both categories. Isaac Copeland scored 12, and James Palmer Jr. chipped in with 11 as well.
Honorable Mention Runner-Up: Creighton Bluejays, 59-54 Win, 2010-2011 Season
December 5, 2010, Bob Devaney Center, Attendance: 9,824 (73% Capacity)
As we already said, the 2010’s were not kind to this rivalry for the Cornhuskers. Because of that, we decided it was worth adding an honorable mention runner-up to include the only other win of the decade in this series. Nebraska fell behind in this one early, going into the locker room down 29-21. They battled back in the second with the help of Brandon Richardson’s 18 points and Caleb Walkers 10 rebounds to get the win.
1. No Sit Sunday, #9 Wisconsin Badgers, 77-68 Win, 2013-2014 Season
March 9, 2014, Pinnacle Bank Arena, Attendance: 15,998 (103.2% Capacity)
Clearly you knew this was going to be ranked number one. How could a list not make it so? How did the name come about for this game? It actually was coined ahead of the game. A from of Nebraska Assistant Coach Chris Harriman texted him on Thursday morning. He’s a Nebraska fan who lives in St. Louis, and he expressed his excitement about coming to Sunday’s basketball game at Pinnacle Bank Arena between Nebraska and No. 9 Wisconsin. The friend referred to it as “No-Sit Sunday.” The phrase stuck with Harriman, and soon he was encouraging fans to remain standing and to bring the noise.
As for the game, it was an instance classic and will likely stand as one of the greatest home games in Nebraska history (and I don’t mean merely Nebrasketball history alone). The Huskers got their biggest home upset win in PBA history to this day, downing the ninth ranked Badgers in the final regular season game 77-68. After starting the season 1-5 in Big Ten play, and sitting at 9-9 overall, the Huskers capped off a 10-2 run with this one. They also secured a fourth place finish in the conference, earning the bye in the conference tournament. As for the opponent, this was a big win over a team that would go on to earn the second seed in the NCAA west region, beating 7 seed Baylor, 6 seed Oregon, and 1 seed Arizona before finally falling to 8 seed and national runner-up Kentucky by one point in the Final Four.
The game itself was a close, back and forth affair until late. Nebraska drew first blood and quickly got out to a 13-6 lead. Wisconsin battled back and kept it close, heading into the locker room with a narrow 35-33 lead after Frank Kaminsky tipped in his own missed layup with :13 seconds left.
Wisconsin jumped out to a quick start in the second-half, building their lead to 7. However, Nebraska quickly fought back and seized the lead for good with 7:50 to go on a Ray Gallegos three. The Huskers held the Badgers to only 34% shooting the the second half, after seeing them score on 54% of their shots in the first half. Shavon Shields scored 26 points to lead the Cornhuskers, with 12 in the first half mostly on drives down the lane. Terran Petteway also scored 26, with 17 of those in the second half, and he grabbed 10 boards to lead the team in rebounding while notching the double-double.
This was a win for the ages, and is the obvious, clear-cut #1 win of the decade on our list.
Which of these wins was your favorite?
This poll is closed
#11 MSU in 2016
#21 Maryland in the 2019 BTT
#9 MSU in 2014
#24 Creighton Bluejays
#9 Wisconsin No Sit Sunday 2014
There you have it, the final installment in Corn Nation’s Nebrasketball Decade in Review reliving the 2010’s best and worst. Now that we’ve finished our series, we want to hear from you in the comments. Who was your favorite player? What was your favorite moment or favorite win? What about the lowest point in the decade? Comment away!
As for us, we wish you a happy new year, and hope for better days to come in the 2020’s!