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Nebrasketball: Trying to Predict Final Schedule Dates

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Nebraska Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

As fans are well aware by now, the Nebraska Cornhuskers have a lot of games to makeup to finish a full 20-game conference schedule after facing six postponements due to COVID-19 issues among players and program personnel. That is a lot of games to play when mixed in with the ones remaining on the schedule with very little time to fit them all in over.

We’ve already seen the consequences of this as the Huskers finish up seven games in 12 days this upcoming Wednesday. However, there are still five games left needing new dates before the season finale against Northwestern on Saturday, March 6 which is just 22 days from now. There are only four games remaining from the original Nebraska postponement, but the game at Illinois originally scheduled for Feb. 24 has been moved to the final week of the season (exact day still to be determined) in order for Michigan State and Illinois to make up their own postponed game now scheduled for Feb. 23.

With all of these new dates needed, I thought I might take a stab at predicting how the schedule may turn out in the end for Nebraska with the idea they will in fact find a way to make up every game in mind. While that seems to still be the goal, the logistics seem increasingly unlikely. If another team is forced to take a pause for COVID-19 issues, it seems inevitable multiple teams will end up not finishing a 20-game season. But enough of that, let’s get into looking at the schedule.

Current Existing Schedule

  • at Penn State, Feb. 14
  • at Maryland, Feb. 16
  • at Maryland, Feb. 17
  • Purdue, Feb. 20
  • Rutgers, Feb. 28
  • at Northwestern, Mar. 6

Games Needing New Dates

  • at Purdue (1/5)
  • Minnesota (1/20)
  • at Iowa (1/24)
  • Penn State (1/30)
  • at Illinois (2/24)

Predicted Final Schedule

(rescheduled games in italics)

  • at Penn State, Feb. 14
  • at Maryland, Feb. 16
  • at Maryland, Feb. 17
  • Purdue, Feb. 20
  • Purdue, Feb. 21
  • Penn State, Feb. 23
  • Minnesota, Feb. 26 (Minnesota pushes Northwestern back to Feb. 28)
  • Rutgers, Feb. 28
  • at Iowa, Mar. 2
  • at Illinois, Mar. 4
  • at Northwestern, Mar. 6

Okay, so let’s break that down here. The Big Ten has already moved the Maryland game next week on Wednesday to back-to-back games in College Park. Keeping this in mind, it makes no sense why Purdue, who currently has off the Sunday through Thursday following their game in Lincoln, could not do the same and play a Sunday game at Nebraska.

Next up is figuring out the Penn State game, and once again the Husker’s east coast swing gives us a great model. Nebraska is sticking around the east coast to play Maryland and avoid unnecessary plane travel for all involved. Penn State can do the same after a Sunday game in Iowa City on Sunday, Feb. 21. Both Nebraska and PSU need a day off, but can then play Tuesday, Feb. 23 in Lincoln to give both teams a few days off until facing the next opponent.

Minnesota needs a new date to make the trip down to Lincoln as well. When could that fit in? This is where some Big Ten camaraderie comes in, and some fair scheduling play as well as other teams have had this done as well. Minnesota and Northwestern currently face off Saturday, Feb. 27. Neither team has any current reason for why that game cannot be pushed back to Sunday. Then the Golden Gophers have no reason why they can’t come to Lincoln for a Friday, Feb. 26 matchup.

The Rutgers game will remain as is for the Huskers, before the Hawkeyes squeeze in a visit in Iowa City by the Huskers in between their own road games at Ohio State on Sunday, Feb. 28 and at Michigan on Thursday, Mar. 4.

Are you exhausted yet? Well, it is almost over with the end in sight. The game at Illinois can now be squeezed in on Thursday, Mar. 4 or could even be pushed to Friday, Mar. 5 with the game at Northwestern bumped to Sunday, Mar. 7. For now, though, I’ll slot it on Thursday with the idea of television scheduling holding firm for the final weekend of games.

There you have it folks, the reworked schedule. Now, in reality, I think as the Big Ten gets to crunch time, some of these games likely will get dropped in the end. Ones that are prime candidates for that likely include Minnesota, Penn State, and Illinois given the top goal will be making sure every team plays every other in the league at least once. The priority games to makeup in that case include Iowa, Northwestern, and ensuring nothing happens to the Rutgers matchup.

In the meantime, Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska all have a lot of ground to cover while Penn State is still playing catchup itself. That doesn’t even get into all of the other teams that were impacted by those program’s pauses. That’s what playing in the middle of a pandemic does to scheduling, though, and the number of postponements is not at all unique to men’s basketball or the Big Ten. So on that note, here’s a great parting thought from Coach Hoiberg to end it with: