A little over two weeks ago, I wrote that Nebraska Cornhusker fans should be really excited about the direction this team and program is going under the tutelage of 2nd year coach Tim Miles. In fact, I even stated that next year’s NCAA Tournament would include Nebrasketball. But with that said, is it possible that this year’s NCAA Tourney could include them as well?
After tonight’s 67-58 win over Illinois, the Huskers now hold an overall record of 13-10 and are 5-6 in Big 10 Conference play. Eye-popping overall record? No. Impressive Big 10 record? Not really. Though, I think if somebody told Miles his team was going to be nearly .500 in the league at this point in the season, he would gladly take it. But seriously, with seven games left in the regular season, is it actually realistic that this team could play their way into next month’s tournament?
It absolutely is. And here’s why: not many people around the country are probably familiar with what is going on in Lincoln but the new basketball facility there known as Pinnacle Bank Arena is quickly developing into one of the more hostile venues in all of the Big 10. Road teams are simply not winning there. The place is loud, energetic and the fans are great. You can tell the Cornhusker faithful is dying for Nebrasketball to be relevant, and with Miles, it appears as if that is going to be the case very soon.
The Huskers will play four of their final seven games at home. Their opponents? Penn State, Purdue, Northwestern and Wisconsin. 3-1? Well, it’s certainly possible. And in terms of their road schedule: Michigan State, Illinois and Indiana. With how weak of a bubble there is throughout college basketball this season, who knows what will happen? If Miles can somehow guide this team to a 5-2 record down the stretch, it’s certainly plausible to envision a 2014 NCAA Tournament bid for Nebraska.
Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27