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It probably won't do much good, because who knows how the NCAA Tournament selection committee will select its teams in the spring, but if you're looking for a magic number of wins for the Nebraska men's basketball team to reach in order to get into the Big Dance, Tim Miles gave an idea Monday night.

Using data available to college coaches on returning players, and a tool developed by analytics whiz Kevin Pauga, Miles said Nebraska's coaches worked out that if the Huskers can win eight nonconference games, then go 11-9 in Big Ten play, "I think that was like a five or six seed in the NCAA, according to the tool."

"Now, how accurate is that? It's a guess," Miles said on "Sports Nightly" on the Husker Sports Network. "It's an educated guess, but at least we have the data and we have the information and we can put our head on the pillow knowing we've given our guys the best chance we can."

It's enough to make a Husker fan's heart skip a beat. But it's still just a guess. Nebraska must take care of its business and have its opponents play well throughout the season. There are injuries. Some teams disappoint. Some teams surprise.

But perhaps Miles' statement is reassuring for a fan base that saw its team go 22-10 and 13-5 in the Big Ten before being left out of the NCAA Tournament because of a lack of quality wins, then lose as a No. 5 seed on the road in the NIT.

"There's nothing more hollow than sitting there last year trying to make a case for yourself when you know you don't have enough quality, Quad 1 wins, and you're dead," Miles said. "Losing doesn't matter, because I think Syracuse had like three more quote-unquote bad losses than we did. But five more good wins.

"So I get it. You can lose tough games, but you've got to win big games, too, and we just didn't have many cracks at it after Christmas."

Nebraska's first chance for a big win comes Wednesday night when Seton Hall visits as part of the Gavitt Games matching teams from the Big Ten against teams from the Big East.

Tip is set for 6:30 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Pirates (1-0) were picked eighth in the Big East preseason coaches poll and have gone to three straight NCAA Tournaments.

Between the Gavitt Games, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (NU plays at Clemson in less than two weeks), the Hall of Fame Classic (the Huskers will play Missouri State and either Texas Tech or USC), a neutral-site game against Oklahoma State and the annual matchup with Creighton, there are plenty of opportunities in the nonconference.

And with the Big Ten going to a 20-game league schedule, the opportunities in 2019 increase as well.

"John Beilein (Michigan's head coach) told me all the time — you play 23 BCS schools, that's enough to get in (the tournament). And if you count the Big East, that's a Power Six as a basketball conference," Miles said. "So I think we've got enough. We'll see."

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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