high school basketball players hold state championship trophy
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Padding the Stats: March Madness is Here

March 04, 2020

We had to wait an extra day, but the most wonderful month of the year is finally here. This is March.

Nebraska’s season is in a free fall as the Huskers’ loss to Northwestern—their 14th in a row—means its more likely than not Nebraska will lose out to end Fred Hoiberg’s first season in Lincoln. If Nebraska couldn’t beat Northwestern, how will the Huskers be able to knock off Michigan or Minnesota or whichever team they play in the Big Ten Tournament?

Hoiberg is going to have to do a heck of a job to get the Huskers up for these last few games, especially with how that loss to Northwestern happened. Even if Nebraska does manage to get a win here to close out the season, that won’t wipe away what has been a brutal stretch.

However, it’s March, and that means there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the great game of basketball.

Let’s start with some high school hoops. The last district finals took place on Tuesday night, which means the field has been set for the boys state tournament next week. This weekend, however, belongs to the girls.

The action kicks off bright and early at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Devaney Center, Lincoln Southwest and Lincoln North Star on Thursday.

In Class A, top-seeded Millard South—led by Creighton signee Jayme Horan and South Dakota signee Maddie Krull—and No. 4 seed Lincoln Pius X—led by Alexis Markowski, the daughter of former Husker Andy Markowski—both head to Lincoln sporting just one loss this season, and we could be poised for a clash between the two in the semifinals if seeds hold through the first round. On the other side of the bracket, Omaha Westside is the No. 2 seed and will be a tough out.

In Class B, 24-1 and top-seeded Crete—led by another Creighton signee in Morgan Mal —is the favorite. In Class C-2, Nebraska volleyball commit Kalynn Meyer is a stud basketball player as well and led Superior to a 21-3 record and the No. 6 seed this season. The Wildcats will face No. 3 Hastings St. Cecilia in the first round at North Star at 8:45 p.m. Class D-2 also features a future Husker as junior guard Allison Weidner leads the second-seeded Humphrey St. Francis Flyers against No. 7 Serling at 7 p.m. at Lincoln Southwest.

After the girls champions are crowned on Saturday, the boys will take the court for their turn come next Thursday. We’ll have more on that closer to the start of the tournament, but Class A has the chance to produce some incredible match-ups.

Bellevue West, Millard North, Omaha Central, Omaha Westside, Omaha Creighton Prep, Omaha South, Papillion-La Vista South and Elkhorn all qualified for the field. The state tournament is set for March 12-14.

In the college ranks, conference tournaments have already begun. The Nebraska women probably have a better shot to compete in the Big Ten Tournament than the men do, but they’re certainly going to have to earn it as the No. 10 seed. The Huskers will take on No. 7 Michigan on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Barring a win in the next two games, Nebraska’s men will head into next week’s Big Ten Tournament as the No. 14 seed. Even if the Huskers bow out early, the rest of the tournament should produce some terrific match-ups as this conference has been one of the deepest and most completive leagues in the country this season.

Then, after the Big Ten tournament wraps up, it will be Selection Sunday. We’ll get our field of 68 and people everywhere will begin frantically filling out their brackets. Nebraska won’t be playing in the postseason this year, but basketball fans in this state will still have a chance to attend some tournament games as Omaha is hosting the first and second rounds at CHI Health Center Omaha. 

I’ve already had my credentials approved so we’ll be bringing you some kind of coverage from those games regardless of which teams the selection committee sends to Omaha. The first round games are set for Friday, March 20.

This basketball season has been a tough one if you’re a Husker fan, but put all those losses behind you. Reinforcements are on the way next season. In the meantime, embrace the Madness. The boys and girls state tournaments and the college possession should be wild. 

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