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Nebrasketball: NIT the Goal Now?

A season gone to ruin, the Huskers may need to hold off on purchasing dancing shoes

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

2. Nebraska: The Huskers have their best team under Tim Miles. The Huskers aren’t deep but may have the best starting five in the league. This is a veteran group with each one of the seniors ready to meet the expectations. Tim Miles is in a great mood here going into the season because he knows he’s got a squad.

Postseason prediction: NCAA

This was a preseason prediction made by renowned college basketball analyst Andy Katz. He had Nebraska ranked second in the Big Ten, higher than Michigan, Purdue, Maryland, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Not only was an NCAA tournament berth a lock, but a Sweet 16 run seemed very likely for the Huskers.

Now after losing 9 of their past 11, Nebraska basically needs to win the Big Ten tournament just to get a berth. The home loss against Purdue this past Saturday would’ve given the Huskers a Quad 1 win and an increase in the NET rankings. The Purdue game was a must win in terms of making the “big dance”. But having said that, March is crazy and anything can happen.

Nebraska sits at 46th in the NET rankings, dropping seven spots after the Purdue loss, right behind Lipscomb. Lipscomb. Throughout non-conference and beginning of conference play, Nebraska consistently ranked in the top 15 for NET. Even when the downfall started, including Isaac Copeland’s injury, the Huskers remained in the top 25.

This was the lone bright spot in keeping the fire lit for a run to the NCAA tournament, but now the flame is ceasing. Time is running out. However they’re still three games left, against three very good opponents.

The schedule as follows: 2/28 @ #7 Michigan, 3/5 @ #10 Michigan State, 3/10 vs #21 Iowa. Can they win all three? Most likely not, especially when they face an angry Michigan team coming off a home lost to Michigan State. But what if they complete the sweep?

Winning all three gives Nebraska an 18-13 record, finishing 8-12 in the Big Ten. They would most likely skip the first round of play-in games in the Big Ten tournament and play on the second day. To make the NCAA tournament besides winning the whole Big Ten tournament, Nebraska needs to win these next three games, and 2-3 games in the Big Ten tournament.

Is that possible? I don’t see it. If these trio of games were all at home, maybe they’d have a chance. Watching this team play away from home is a tragedy, with the most recent away game coming against Penn State, where the Huskers gave up 95 points and lost by 24. If they can't win away from home against a bottom-tier Big Ten team like Penn State, how will they win at the Big Ten tournament?

An NIT berth seems almost certain, but one must wonder if Tim Miles and the team will accept that nomination. The goal was to win an NCAA tournament game. Playing in the NIT might hurt even more than not being selected into the NCAA tournament.

The show is not over until the fat lady sings, and she hasn’t sung yet. Winning these next three games is a possibility. Let’s see if Miles and the boys have can pull a couple tricks up their sleeves and do this thing.