Those that listened when Matt Patton was on Sports Talk with Richard Cross heard Matt discuss potential NCAA tournament teams from the Big 12. You probably nodded your head when he mentioned the Texas Longhorns, Kansas Jayhawks, Texas A&M Aggies and Missouri Tigers then probably paused when he brought up Nebraska Cornhuskers (unless, of course, you are frequent commenter Miguel Mejia).
But after Saturday's stunning defeat of Texas, let's take a look at the viability of the Corn entering the field of
64 65 68.
To date, the Huskers are 18-8 overall and 6-6 in conference. Their conference record lands them in a three way tie for fifth in Jeff Sagrain's third ranked conference in the country, though they have lost to both K-State and Baylor, meaning after tie breakers they are technically seventh.
Nationally the Corn are ranked by Ken Pomeroy 41st and 46th by J-Sags. In Ken Pom's rankings, NU is listed just above purported "Bubble Teams" Michigan State, St. Mary's, Texas A&M, New Mexico, Xavier, Wichita State and Gonzaga. To boost their resume, they have two wins vs AP Top 25 teams, Texas and Texas A&M with one more to play, when they host Mizzou on March 1.
With four conference games remaining NU hosts K-State and Mizzou and travels to Iowa State and Colorado. Given that schedule, and their trend upwards, it should be assumed they will win at least two of those games and possibly three of the four.
Winning two would put them at 8-8 in conference play and give them 20 wins on the season. Assuming they finish 5 through 7 in conference standings, they would likely have a first round tournament game against one of the three conference bottom feeders, before hypothetically losing on the second day of conference tournament games. Again, this is a cautious stance, especially after they just got through giving Texas their first conference loss.
But, if the above holds, what you have is a 21-11 teams with at least two Top 25 wins. This, my friends, is the classic definition of a Bubble Team.
My gut feeling tells me that, as much as we hate to say it, NU's name doesn't hold enough water to get them in with that resume, especially if they finish lower than fifth in the conference. With a Strength of Schedule hovering around 120, the naysayers will claim their inflated win total is by playing sub par teams.
If they can finish the season 3-1, though, with one of the victories coming against Mizzou, then their RPI should catapult them into the mid-thirties, take them to 22-10 on the season and give them a hell of a lot better shot at dancing.
So sound the alarms, NU is on the Bubble. It's been a long time since they heard that simmer in Lincoln, so better prepare them for what it means.