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Nebraska WBB: All-Conference Honors and Tournament Update

Hannah Whitish is the only Husker to earn all-conference recognition as she leads the Huskers into tournament play on Thursday

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Maryland vs Nebraska Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Nebraska women are officially the #6 seed in the conference tournament. They tied with three other teams who also had a 9-9 conference record, but earned the tie-breakers over Michigan State, Minnesota, and Northwestern.

Maryland, Iowa, and Rutgers were the top three seeds, in that order. Nebraska went 0-5 against those three teams during the regular season. Michigan was the #4 seed - the Huskers split the season series with the Wolverines.

Ohio State finished as the fifth seed. Nebraska defeated Ohio State way back on December 31. Ohio State is likely to be the Big Ten’s auto-bid for the WNIT (the highest seed that is not invited to the NCAA tournament). The auto-bid is extended regardless if a team has a .500 record or not, while at-large berths are only extended to teams that are at least at .500.

What-if game. Nebraska currently sits at 14-15 on the season. If they had managed to avoid that awful one-point loss (buzzer beater three-pointer) to Wisconsin (the #13 seed) on January 27, the Huskers would have tied Ohio State for the 5 seed and held the tiebreaker. Not only would Nebraska have gotten the higher seeding, but would have likely been the Big Ten’s auto-bid to the WNIT. As it stands, the Huskers have to win at least two games in the conference tournament (and make it to the semi-finals) to have a shot at postseason play.

Conference Tournament Schedule

Nebraska will play the last of four games on Thursday (March 7) and will face the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 11 seed Purdue and No. 14 seed Illinois. Nebraska swept the season series with Purdue and defeated Illinois in Champaign.

If Nebraska wins their first game, they would face the #3 seed Rutgers on Friday in the quarterfinals. The Scarlet Knights have recently dismissed two starters from the team and their hall-of-fame coach is on a health-related leave of absence. That didn’t seem to stop the Scarlet Knights as they closed out the season on a three game winning streak.

All-Conference Honors

Hannah Whitish earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition from both the conference coaches and media. Whitish, a 5-9 junior guard from Barneveld, Wis., led the Huskers with 10.1 points and 4.3 assists during the regular season. She added 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game while ranking among Big Ten leaders with 62 three-pointers.

She has 192 career threes, which ranks as the No. 3 total in school history. She also ranks among Nebraska’s top 10 in career assists and needs just 47 points to achieve the 1,000-point mark in her career.

I thought there was a chance that either Kate Cain or Nicea Eliely could make an appearance in the all-defense team, but neither got the nod. Eliely finished fifth in the conference in steals with 52. Cain finished second in the conference with 77 blocked shots.

As far as the all-freshman team, Nebraska’s newcomers have been outstanding, but the Big Ten is LOADED with talented newcomers. Two players from Maryland and one each from Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State made the all-frosh list. Nebraska’s Sam Haiby and Leigha Brown each took home one “freshman of the week” honor during the season. By the end of the season, two first-year Huskers, Kayla Mershon and Leigha Brown had worked their way into the starting lineup. As a group, Nebraska’s four freshman of the Apocalypse (okay - that one still needs some work) finished with the second most points of any freshman class in all of NCAA.