The Nebraska basketball team continues its quest for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1998 this weekend, as the Huskers travel to Indianapolis for the 2014 Big Ten Basketball Tournament.
Tournament action begins Thursday, but the Huskers will take the court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday after earning one of four first-round byes. Nebraska, the No. 4 seed, will play either fifth-seeded Ohio State or No. 12 seed Purdue.
Tipoff is set for approximately 1:30 p.m. Pre-game coverage on News Radio 1110 KFAB starting at 12Noon with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison. The Huskers (19-11, 11-7 Big Ten) head to Indianapolis full of momentum, winning eight of their final nine games, culminating in a 77-68 win over ninth-ranked Wisconsin on Sunday. In that game, the Huskers shot 52 percent from the field and got 26 points each from Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields in picking up a victory crucial to the Huskers’ postseason hopes.
Nebraska enjoyed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in two seasons under Tim Miles, who was named Big Ten Coach of the Year on Monday. Nebraska went from 5-13 to 11-7 in the Big Ten, earning its first top-four conference finish since the 1997-98 season. Nebraska’s 11 Big Ten wins was the program’s highest conference win total since 1966, as the Huskers have relied on a talented sophomore class and a stout defense during the second half of the season. Petteway, Shields and Walter Pitchford combined for 67 of Nebraska’s 77 points in Sunday’s win over the Badgers.
During the conference season, the Huskers split with both Ohio State and Purdue, dropping the first matchup with both teams before rebounding to win the second matchup. The win over Ohio State on Jan. 20 marked Nebraska’s first win against a top-25 team under Miles, while the 19-point win over Purdue on Feb. 23 capped a five-game conference win streak - the longest at Nebraska since 1998-99.
With a win on Friday, the Huskers will advance to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2006.
Last Time Out
The Nebraska basketball team overcame the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday evening as the Huskers posted a 77-68 victory in front of a school record 15,998 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska’s Conference Tournament History
While this marks Nebraska’s third Big Ten Tournament appearance, the Huskers are 17-36 all-time in conference tournaments dating back to the start of the Big Eight Conference tournament in 1977. NU’s only conference tournament title came in 1994, when the Huskers beat Oklahoma, No. 3 Missouri and No. 23 Oklahoma State en route to the Big Eight title.
- Nebraska’s last semifinal appearance came in the 2006 Big 12 Tournament when the Huskers defeated Missouri and Oklahoma before falling to eventual tournament winner Kansas.
- The Huskers’ last first-round win came in 2013, when the 10th-seeded Huskers topped seventh-seeded Purdue, 57-55, at the United Center in Chicago.
- Michigan State in 1998 is the only four seed to win the tournament, while three four seeds have been runner up, most recently Wisconsin in 2013.
- If Nebraska plays Purdue on Friday, it will be the third straight year the Huskers have squared off with the Boilermakers, the first time Nebraska has done that in tournament play.
- In 2013, Tim Miles became the first Husker coach to win a conference tournament game in his first season.
Miles Wins No. 300 vs. WIU
Nebraska Coach Tim Miles collected his 300th career victory on Nov. 12 against Western Illinois. Miles, who is in his 19th season as a college head coach with stops at Mayville State, Southwest Minnesota State, North Dakota State and Colorado State before taking the Nebraska job in March of 2012. Ironically enough, his 200th win came against current Husker assistant Craig Smith when Miles was at North Dakota State and Smith was the head coach at Mayville State.