It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure. But at this point in the season, it doesn’t matter how you win, it just matters that you do in fact win.
And that’s exactly what the Nebraska Cornhuskers did on Saturday as they defeated the Northwestern Wildcats — in Lincoln — by a score of 54-47. With the win, the Huskers are now 17-11 on the season and 9-7 in Big Ten Conference play. More importantly, they remain in contention for an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament.
Shavon Shields led the way for Nebraska with 17 points and 10 rebounds as Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Terran Petteway was held to just 10. For Northwestern, sophomore center Alex Olah was terrific in the contest. He scored 20 to go along with seven boards.
Entering Wednesday night’s road date at Illinois, Nebraska had been the hottest team in the entire Big Ten. Tim Miles‘ squad was playing hard-nosed and relentless basketball and his program’s momentum was through the roof. Nebraska was the feel good story in college basketball and seemed poised to make their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1998.
The loss to Illinois set them back, but certainly not very far. Earlier today, John Groce‘s youthful Illini won on the road at Michigan State and have clearly started to figure some things out — they’ve won three straight. Furthermore, no loss should be considered “bad” in this year’s version of the Big Ten.
Miles and Nebraska still are a feel-good story, and in my opinion, still are a likely NCAA tournament team.
Only one road team has won at Pinnacle Bank Arena all season long and if the Huskers can keep it that way by the end of next weekend, they’ll go dancin’ later this month.
Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27.