Nebraska’s NCAA Tournament chances took a hit Wednesday night. Perhaps not a critical hit yet, but a hit nonetheless. Minnesota entered play 7-11 and 6-10 in conference play—ranked 143rd in the NET—but picked up a 10-point win over the Huskers to sweep the regular-season series.
The loss dropped the Huskers to 11-10 on the year and 9-9 in Big Ten play. With two games left, Nebraska can still get to double-digit wins in conference play, which would be a nice plus for its resume considering overall league strength once again this year. And, those two remaining games are both against projected tournament teams.
Let’s take a look at where the Huskers stand as the regular season winds down.
ESPN’s latest Bracketology update, released on Feb. 23, had the Huskers in the next four out category along with LSU, Villanova, and Colorado.
The first four out were Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Houston, and Clemson. The last four teams in were projected to be Washington State, UCF, North Carolina, and Oregon State.
In the 64-team bracket, the Big Ten had seven teams in the field—Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern, Rutgers, Iowa, and Michigan State. (Ohio State would be in the field, but it self-imposed a postseason ban in women’s basketball this season for possible NCAA rules violations.)
The Huskers currently only have wins over two tournament teams from the Big Ten, Northwestern (twice) and Rutgers. The schedule sets up nicely for NU, though, in that it has a home game with Michigan State coming up on Saturday and a road contest with Iowa a week after that.
Nebraska ranked 76th in the NET entering Wednesday’s game.
A look at everyone on the bubble:
Nebraska (76): strength of schedule ranks 46th, road record is 3-7, record in Q1 games is 4-4, record in Q2 is 1-4, record in Q3 is 4-2, record in Q4 is 2-0, average opponent NET ranking in wins is 102nd, average NET ranking in losses is 69th
. . .Last Four In. . .
Oregon State (7-6, 6-6 Pac-12, 34th NET): strength of schedule ranks 75th, road record is 4-2, record in Q1 games is 3-4, record in Q2 games is 2-1, record in Q3 games is 2-1, record in Q4 games is 0-0, average win ranks 68th, average loss ranks 29th
North Carolina (11-9, 6-9 ACC, 36th NET): strength of schedule ranks 39th, road record is 2-6, record in Q1 games is 2-7, record in Q2 games is 4-2, record in Q3 games is 1-0, record in Q4 games is 4-0, average win ranks 141st, average loss ranks 39th
Washington State (10-10, 8-10 Pac-12, 42nd NET): strength of schedule ranks 15th, road record is 4-5, record in Q1 games is 4-7, record in Q2 games is 3-3, record in Q3 games is 2-0, record in Q4 games is 1-0, average win ranks 88th, average loss ranks 31st
UCF (12-2, 10-1 AAC, 45th NET): strength of schedule ranks 155th, road record is 6-1, record in Q1 games is 3-0, record in Q2 games is 2-1, record in Q3 games is 5-1, record in Q4 games is 2-0, average win ranks 122nd, average loss ranks 98th
. . .First Four Out. . .
Wake Forest (11-9, 8-8 ACC, 48th NET): strength of schedule ranks 9th, road record is 4-4, record in Q1 games is 4-8, record in Q2 games is 4-1, record in Q3 games is 3-0, record in Q4 games is 0-0, average win ranks 72nd, average loss ranks 29th
Notre Dame (9-8, 7-6 ACC, 52nd NET): strength of schedule ranks 29th, road record is 3-6, record in Q1 games is 4-6, record in Q2 games is 3-2, record in Q3 games is 1-0, record in Q4 games is 1-0, average win ranks 76th, average loss ranks 43rd
Houston (14-5, 11-4 AAC, 53rd NET): strength of schedule ranks 108th, road record is 8-3, record in Q1 games is 2-3, record in Q2 games is 1-2, record in Q3 games is 9-0, record in Q4 games is 2-0, average win ranks 139th, average loss ranks 38th
Clemson (10-10, 5-10 ACC, 63rd NET): strength of schedule ranks 93rd, road record is 3-6, record in Q1 games is 1-6, record in Q2 games is 4-3, record in Q3 games is 2-1, record in Q4 games is 3-0, average win ranks 144th, average loss ranks 51st
Nebraska has Michigan State and Iowa. A win over the Spartans would both help Nebraska’s seeding for the Big Ten Tournament and give NU a Q2 win. A win over Iowa would also help seeding and give NU a Q1 win.
The current Big Ten table has Iowa sitting seventh, Nebraska eighth, and Michigan State ninth. The Spartans also have a .500 record in conference play, but Nebraska upset them in East Lansing 68-64 during the first meeting on Jan. 10.
Michigan State closes out its regular season with a home game against Wisconsin on March 6.
Iowa will play at Wisconsin on Feb. 28 and at Indiana in a make-up game on March 3 before returning home to host the Huskers on March 6. Nebraska lost the first meeting with Iowa at home 88-81 on Feb. 11. Hawkeye guard Caitlin Clark had 39 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and six 3s made that day.
Nebraska will begin its Big Ten Tournament run on March 10 in Indianapolis.
The 8-9 matchup will be the first game of the day, at 10 a.m. CT on BTN. The winner of that game will face the No. 1 seed—Maryland or Indiana—the following day at 10 a.m. CT. Nebraska lost to Maryland 95-73 on Feb. 14 and lost to Indiana 81-45 on Dec. 20.
Should Nebraska play in the 7-10 matchup, that game would take place at 5:30 p.m. CT on March 10. The winner will face the No. 2 seed the following day at 5:30 p.m. CT.
On a neutral floor, any combination of games against Iowa, Michigan State, Maryland, and Indiana would give Nebraska two shots at Q1 wins.
The Huskers are undoubtedly playing better than they were on Dec. 20, when a ranked Hoosier squad blew them out on the road, but the Huskers have also lost five of their last seven games.
They’d have to pull off some big-time upsets in the coming weeks to climb back into the field of 64. With four wins this season over ranked opponents, Nebraska has shown the ability to do that.