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Delaware State vs. Nebraska, 12/22/17

Nebraska guard Evan Taylor (11) hooks arms with Nana Akenten as he is announced as part of the starting lineup prior to facing off against Delaware State on Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

KAYLA WOLF, Journal Star

Turns out that time waiting between your loss at the conference tournament and Selection Sunday is similar to spending time in another unsavory place.

"Just waiting here in purgatory," is how Nebraska coach Tim Miles described the Huskers' time between their March 2 loss to Michigan and the eight ensuing days until the NCAA Tournament bracket is announced.

A long week has led up to a long day. On Sunday, the Huskers will gather at the Hendricks practice facility to watch the NCAA Tournament selection show, which begins at 5 p.m. on TBS.

They should know in the show's first few minutes whether a 22-10 record and a fourth-place finish (13-5) in the Big Ten are good enough to make the field of 68. In a change from previous selection shows, the entire field will be revealed in the show's first segment before the brackets are filled out.

Despite not knowing who, when, where or what tournament they'll play in, Nebraska's players are preparing for an NCAA berth, senior guard Anton Gill said. 

"We've been preparing like we're in. We expect to be in. And anything other than that will be a disappointment," Gill said. "We're looking at this like, it's not a surprise we're getting in. It's just, where are we going, what's our seed, and start our preparation."

The Huskers, and their fans, think history is on their side.

Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, 304 of 306 teams to win at least 13 league games in a power conference have made the NCAA Tournament. The only two who didn't both came from the Pac-12 when Washington and Oregon both missed out in 2012.

That season, the Pac-12 was ranked as the 10th best conference in the country by RPI. By most metrics, the Big Ten this season is ranked sixth, and no Big Ten team with at least 20 overall wins and fewer than seven conference losses has ever missed the tournament.

But history doesn't guarantee anything when it comes to picking this bracket. Most metrics have Nebraska not just out of the field, but well out. There is a very good chance the Huskers don't see their name until the NIT selection show begins at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. The general consensus going into the Big Ten Tournament was that Nebraska needed at least one win. Instead, the Huskers left New York City with a 77-58 loss to Michigan.

That's led a crew that already enjoys watching hoops to take an even keener interest in this week's conference tournaments. 

"All of them. We've seen everybody," Gill said. "Hoping a certain number of teams lose, hoping other people get wins."

Senior graduate transfer Duby Okeke, who played in the NCAA Tournament with Winthrop before coming to NU, is the man in charge of keeping the Huskers in the loop, Gill said.

"He's the guy who's got all the scores, all the teams, all that. So he keeps us updated," Gill said.

Besides watching hoops, Nebraska has been in the gym preparing for a game ... somewhere. The team practiced Monday, Wednesday and Friday and did shooting work Tuesday, including a free throw contest between the players and coaches. 

Miles and his staff allowed the players to draft teams for 5-on-5 workouts, and a few wrinkles were added for whoever Nebraska faces next.

But there's nothing like getting ready for a game. It will be a quick turnaround no matter what event Nebraska goes to. NCAA First Four games are set for Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, while the first NIT games are scheduled for the same day on campus sites.

"There's going to be a case for us or against us," Miles said. "And I can put my head on my pillow knowing our kids have done a great job all year and put themselves in a phenomenal position."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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