Nebraska wanted to keep playing. Nebraska got its wish.
Monday night, the 12-12 Huskers were selected for the 32-team Women’s NIT field. Nebraska will play in Memphis and open against UT Martin (20-5, 17-2 Ohio Valley Conference) on Friday, March 19.
It’ll then play either Louisiana (16-6) or Colorado (10-10) depending on results. Those two play each other on Friday as well. The winners of the two games will meet the following day, Saturday, March 20, at 5 p.m. CT. The losers will play each other that Saturday at 8 p.m.
This year’s event will start with eight teams each at four regional sites—Charlotte, North Carolina; Fort Worth, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Rockford, Illinois. First-round play begins Friday, March 19. The second round is March 20, and Round 3 is March 22. The four regional champions will advance to the Memphis site for the semifinals (March 26) and the championship game (March 28). Should Nebraska advanced, it will just stay in Memphis.
Every team will get at least two games in this year’s event. First-round losers will move to a consolation bracket.
All games will be streaming on FloHoops. Nebraska’s will also be carried live on radio by the Husker Sports Network, Huskers.com, and the Huskers App.
Here’s the full bracket:
Up until the final few weeks of the season, Nebraska had a shot at earning one of the final bids to the NCAA Tournament. An up-and-down close to the regular season made that hope a longshot, but Nebraska’s showing at the Big Ten Tournament last week solidified itself as an attractive WNIT participant.
Nebraska downed Minnesota in the 8-9 matchup last Wednesday in Indianapolis. It set up a Thursday quarterfinal bout with No. 1 seed and eventual tournament champ Maryland, selected as a 2-seed in the recently-announced NCAA Tournament field.
Nebraska held leads on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter of that quarterfinal game, and took the Terrapins down to the very end. Maryland won 83-73, but the margin didn’t extend beyond two possessions until Nebraska fouled to extend the clock and put Maryland on the line.
NU lost by 23 to Maryland in the regular-season, but in the Big Ten tourney, it showed it can still play with anyone.
Despite a 2-6 close to the regular season, Nebraska had quite the resume. It was 5-7 against teams selected for the NCAA Tournament and picked up four wins against NET top-25 programs. NU sat at No. 73 in the NET ranking.
In order to take into account the impact of COVID-19 on the state of play in college basketball this season, the WNIT tweaked its selection criteria this year. Teams weren’t required to have a winning record. The selection committee looked at NET ranking, strength of schedule, strength of opponents and of their schedules, record against top-100 teams, and various eyeball test items.
“We most definitely are wanting to extend our season if we have an opportunity to do that,” head coach Amy Williams said last week when asked if the Huskers would accept a WNIT bid. “I think this team deserves it.”
Nebraska was the highest NET ranked Big Ten squad to not be selected for the NCAA Tournament. It also had the best record of the league teams left out of the tourney. NU is the only Big Ten team headed to the WNIT.
“We are heading into the postseason looking at the WNIT as a great opportunity,” Williams said in a statement Monday night. “We think we have a team that had a season worthy of NCAA Tournament selection, but we weren’t chosen. Now we have another chance to prove ourselves while getting our young players some invaluable experience. We are excited to keep playing, and we are going to try and make the most of it.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.