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Picking Nebrasketball’s Top Five Games in 2021-22

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The full schedule is out. What are the five games to circle as most excited about?

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

The Nebraska Cornhuskers men’s basketball schedule is out in full, finally. As a result, we can see the full flow of games and start to get a clear idea of the games that should excite fans and games that should be an important measuring stick or key chance to build a big resume win.

As the Huskers enter year three under head coach Fred Hoiberg, the pieces seem like they are finally there to have a breakthrough on the court. Some of the biggest recruits in the modern era have joined the team, and the final stretch of play at the end of last season was showing promise of what can be when things start to click in Hoiberg’s system.

With that in mind, what games seem likely to be the ones to judge whether this is the season the program turns the corner or not? What games should just be downright fun for fans to watch or attend? And what games should fans just be downright excited the most for?

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here is my list of the top five games to get excited for this season:

1. Creighton

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
  • Nov. 16, TBA
  • BTN or FS1
  • Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, NE

Despite the tumult around the Bluejays of late, this is still looking to be a great squad. CU comes to Lincoln this year and fans can be back in the stands. This game is also just the third one on the schedule and the first against a power-six program. Add onto that the fact it is the annual I-80 pitch-forkery rival game, and ooh boy will it be a big one! Just ignore it being part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

2. at NC State

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-NC State Syracuse Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
  • Dec. 1, TBA
  • TBA Network
  • PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC

Hopefully the Wolfpack’s basketball team is fully vaccinated so the game isn’t cancelled, and hopefully the hoops team doesn’t hold a grudge about their baseball team in the College World Series. The Wolfpack baseball team’s poor risk-reward judgements based on NCAA rules announced in April aside, this game should actually be a sneaky important measuring stick for the Huskers.

NC State has the talent to make some noise in the ACC this season, has been a consistent post-season team (whether NIT or NCAA) under head coach Kevin Keatts, and poses a tough matchup with a defensive minded team. Add to that it is the first, and only true road test of the season for the Huskers to that point, and you can easily see why it is an important game to circle.

3. Ohio State

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC
  • Jan. 2, TBA
  • TBA
  • Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, NE

The Buckeyes seem poised to take a step back this season from the initial years of preseason hyper under head coach Chris Holtmann of late. Having said that, they still are one of the top names in the Big Ten to have a shot at winning the regular season crown at the end of the year. A visit from Michigan in early December and a trip to Michigan State following the Buckeyes visit might be more trendy picks here, but the matchup against OSU is an important one.

Ohio State is a game that comes following the end of the non-conference season, so the Huskers have plenty of time to have sorted out the rotation and have gelled as a roster following tough games early in the schedule. That makes the visit from the Buckeyes a perfect opportunity to open the main stretch of league play with a huge upset. PBA better be rocking for this team, because a big win in this matchup goes a long way at setting the stage for a NCAA tournament bid.

4. at Rutgers

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Nebraska Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
  • Jan. 8, TBA
  • TBA
  • Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), Piscataway, NJ

Is a game at Rutgers a sexy pick? Well, if you don’t pay attention to Big Ten basketball, then you are probably thinking that very question. RU might be heading for a tough rebuilding year this season, but you can bet the Scarlet Knights are a tough out under sixth year head coach Steve Pikiell. Pikiell has built Rutgers into a tough matchup any night, and has had a NCAA Tournament team the past two seasons (even if Covid cancelled it in 2020). With those wins, the RAC has become a tough place to play at. If the Huskers want to vault into the middle of the league standings this season and make the NCAA Tournament at season’s end, this is a must win game to do that. It isn’t a “can’t lose” game, or a try and have a competitive loss. It’s a “must win.”

5. at Wisconsin

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
  • March 6, TBA
  • TBA
  • Kohl Center, Madison, WI

A end of season trip to the Kohl Center should have everyone excited. The Badgers are looking to be a tough opponent, but likely a beatable squad. Ignoring the off-court drama Flopsconsin endured, on the court the Huskers should have a chance to either add to post-season seeding or lock in a likely tournament bid with this road game. Either way, this game makes for an exciting matchup because it is the season finale and offers an exciting opportunity for a postseason or the excitement that comes with knowing the postseason is right around the corner. Sign me up either way!

Poll

What game are you most excited for?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Creighton
    (51 votes)
  • 5%
    at NC State
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    Ohio State
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    at Rutgers
    (2 votes)
  • 11%
    at Wisconin
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Another game that I will say in the comments
    (1 vote)
69 votes total Vote Now

Below is the full schedule for the 2021-2022 men’s basketball season (home games in bold, non-conference with *in italics):

  • *Peru State (Exh.) - Oct. 27
  • *Colorado (Exh.) - Oct. 31
  • *Western Illinois - Nov. 9
  • *Sam Houston State - Nov. 12
  • *Creighton (Gavitt Tipoff Games) - Nov. 16
  • *Idaho State - Nov. 19
  • *Southern - Nov. 21 (Part of Nebraska’s MTE)
  • *Tennessee State - Nov. 23 (Part of Nebraska’s MTE)
  • *South Dakota - Nov. 27 (Part of Nebraska’s MTE)
  • *at NC State (B1G/ACC Challenge) - Dec. 1
  • Sat., Dec. 4 at Indiana
  • Tues., Dec. 7 Michigan
  • *Auburn (Atlanta, GA) - Dec. 11
  • *Kansas State -Dec. 19
  • *Kennesaw State - Dec. 22
  • Sun., Jan. 2 Ohio State
  • Wed., Jan. 5 at Michigan State
  • Sat., Jan. 8 at Rutgers
  • Tues., Jan. 11 Illinois
  • Fri., Jan. 14 at Purdue
  • Mon., Jan. 17 Indiana
  • Sat., Jan. 22 at Ohio State
  • Tues., Jan. 25 Wisconsin
  • Sat., Jan. 29 Rutgers
  • Tues., Feb. 1 at Michigan
  • Sat., Feb. 5 Northwestern
  • Wed., Feb. 9 Minnesota
  • Sun., Feb. 13 at Iowa
  • Fri., Feb. 18 Maryland
  • Tues., Feb. 22 at Northwestern
  • Fri., Feb. 25 Iowa
  • Mon., Feb. 28 at Penn State
  • Sun., March 6 at Wisconsin
  • Wed.-Sun., March 9-13 the Big Ten Tournament (Indianapolis, IN)