The Nebraska Cornhuskers look to extend the season at least another game as the team opens up the 2022 Big Ten Tournament tomorrow against the Northwestern Wildcats. The teams that both try to lay claim to “NU” are the opening game of the 2022 tournament with Nebraska the No. 13 seed and Northwestern the No. 12. Whoever loses will see the season end as neither will advance to a post-season tournament, while the winner will live to play Thursday against No. 5 seed Iowa.
Nebraska enters the tournament as the No. 13 seed for the first time since 2019. That shorthanded roster advanced all the way to the semi-finals before falling 66-62 to fourth-seed Wisconsin. The Huskers went on to advance to the second round of the NIT, falling at TCU.
The Huskers enter the tournament with all kinds of momentum after an impressive close to the season that included three-straight victories on the road. The back-to-back road wins over ranked teams No. 23 Ohio State and No. 10 Wisconsin was the first time in program history Nebraska has accomplished that feat and the win over Wisconsin was the first top-10 road win since 2014 by the Huskers.
Co-Big Ten champion Illinois is the only other program entering the tournament matching Nebraska’s league-best active three-game win streak. Only seven Power-Six teams have a win streak longer than Nebraska and Illinois in fact (North Carolina, Baylor, Seton Hall, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arizona State, and Clemson).
As for the Wildcats, Chris Collins is very familiar with UNL at this point as he is in his ninth season as head coach in Evanston. This year’s Wildcats finished 14-15 during the regular season and tied for 10th with a 7-13 mark in Big Ten play. The Wildcats won just one out of six games down the final stretch before a 13-point victory over Minnesota to end the regular season. That lone win prior to the Gophers was a 77-65 home victory over Nebraska.
The Wildcats feature three players averaging double-figures. Pete Nance leads NU in scoring, rebounding, and blocks with 14.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. He is also hitting 45 percent of shots from three-point range. Boo Buie is averaging 14.1 points per game and is seventh in the Big Ten with 4.0 assists per game. Chase Audige averages 10.3 points and is second in the Big Ten with 1.8 steals per game. Northwestern is coughing up just 9.8 turnovers per game.
The Wildcats swept Nebraska this season in regular-season league play. NU defeated the Huskers in Lincoln 87-63 on Feb. 5 and again 77-65 in Evanston on Feb. 22. Tomorrow’s matchup marks the first meeting between the programs in the Big Ten Tournament.
The matchup also marks the 21st meeting all-time between the conference foes. The series dates back to 1933. Northwestern leads the all-time series 11-9 and is also 10-6 against Nebraska in Big Ten play. The Wildcats currently hold a five-game win streak in the series dating back to the 2019-2020 season.
When: Wednesday, March 9 at 5:00 p.m. CST/6:00 p.m. EST
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse (20,000) - Indianapolis, Indiana
TV: Big Ten Network
Announcers: Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play), Robbie Hummel (analyst), Andy Katz (sideline)
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Radio: Huskers Radio Network
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Analyst: Jake Muhleisen
Broadcast Stations: KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KKCD (105.9 FM) in Omaha, KHYY (106.9 FM) in Scottsbluff, and KAMI (1580 AM) in Lexington
Also available on Huskers.com and the Huskers app.
Line: Northwestern -5
2021-22 Record: 14-15 (7-13 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Chris Collins
Record at Northwestern: 132-149 (9th year)
Career Record: Same
2021-22 Record: 10-21 (4-16 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Fred Hoiberg
Record at Nebraska: 24-66 (3rd year)
Career Record: 139-122 (8th year)