Count me among those who will be very interested to see where Nebraska's win projections end up this offseason. More interested than usual is perhaps the better way to put it, as I'm always at least a little curious. A coaching change always complicates making projections, but here you have one of the most in-demand coaches from the previous season, which makes Scott Frost one of the most closely watched names nationally, and he gets one of the country's toughest schedules in Year 1.
So where do you start with that? Bill Bender of The Sporting News starts at eight wins.
The enthusiasm is off the charts in Lincoln with the arrival of Scott Frost — and it should be — but the road Big Ten schedules includes trips to Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Ohio State. Who made that schedule? Eight wins would be a successful season (not that Frost wants to hear that).
As I eye that schedule, knowing what little we know right now, I think eight wins would represent a very good trajectory for Nebraska in Year 1. Just doing a gut reaction favorite-or-underdog run through the schedule, I think you could start with the Huskers favored in six games and a dog in the other six.
If I had to make a line today I'd probably have the Huskers favored in these games: Akron, Colorado, Troy, Purdue (this closest call here), Minnesota and Illinois. That would leave Nebraska as an underdog at Michigan, at Wisconsin, at Northwestern, at Ohio State, against Michigan State in Lincoln and at Iowa (the closest call in this group).
One path to eight wins then is for the Huskers to be one game better than the line would indicate in the regular season, so 7-5, and then get a Year 1 capper/offseason momentum booster in the bowl game.
I'd call that a successful first season.
Rock You Like a Hurricane
It seems as though most people are making peace with the reality that Nebraska basketball is not likely to make the NCAA Tournament. Are the Huskers good enough to compete in the tournament? Absolutely, in my mind, but it's tough to prove on paper and that's where the ultimate decision is made.
Still, there's no reason to give up hope until the bubble finally bursts, and if you're looking for the team similar to Nebraska that threaded the needle (so to speak) Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News is here to help.
In fact, for teams such as Nebraska, the Holy Grail is Tulsa 2016. That team finished fourth in the American Conference, had a 20-11 record on Selection Sunday, one victory over the RPI top 25, three losses against teams rated worse than 100 and a 4-5 record against teams in the field.
There wasn’t anyone outside the selection room who believed that Tulsa team would make it – including that Tulsa team, which did not gather for the selection show and had one player tweet that his team expected to play in the NIT. But it happened.
Tulsa lost by five to Michigan in Dayton that year.
The Grab Bag
- ICYMI: The Hail Varsity staff talked at length about the Huskers' tournament hopes on the latest Varsity Club Podcast.
- John Gasaway of ESPN identifies eight teams that have a chance to win the NCAA Tournament (and 343 that don't).
- Lane Kiffin on why he's optimistic about his new 24-year-old offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr.
- A good deep dive on the traits of a slot receiver in the spread football era.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.