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Michigan vs. Nebraska basketball, 1/18

Nebraska head coach Tim Miles (left) and assistant coach Michael Lewis instruct the team in the second half against Michigan Jan. 18, 2018, at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Sometimes you have to dig deep to find pertinent information.

In this case, it's right there on page 169.

This particular information occupies a small corner of Nebraska's 2017-18 men's basketball media guide. Ah, yes, there it is: The Huskers' all-time postseason record is 23-23, including 0-7 in the NCAA Tournament.

You've probably heard Sunday's verdict by now: Nebraska will remain 0-7 in the NCAA Tournament for another year.

No chance to dance.

And no reason to highlight 0-7 in a publication that might get into the hands of a high-profile recruit.

No reason to highlight that record, period.

For what it's worth, the Huskers are 23-16 in 17 NIT appearances.

Yeah, Selection Sunday was a steel-toe kick in the shin for Nebraska (22-10, 13-5) because Tim Miles' crew has the goods to make noise in the NCAA Tournament. That's an opinion. In my case, a strong one. I trust my eyes.

Fact is, Nebraska drew only a No. 5 seed in the NIT and is headed to Mississippi State for a first-round game Wednesday night.

Here I thought Jim Delany and the Big Ten had some pull in this world.

Fact is, Nebraska wasn't even close to receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Somewhere, bracketologists Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm are having a hearty chuckle. They told us there was no way the Huskers would land an invitation to the Dance, and many fans either scoffed or tweeted vitriol. Don't listen to the bean counters.

It wasn't a good look before Sunday, and it's worse now.

The Huskers' longtime play-by-play announcer, Kent Pavelka, went so far as to hit Lunardi on Twitter with a #Jackwagon.

Tim Miles told a national audience (BTN) early in the week, "Here's what I know: We're in." 

He even doubled-down on his bet: "I think we're way in."

I thought maybe he knew something the rest of us didn't.

Turns out, it was all a bunch of hot air.

Miles leaned hard on history, noting all 61 Big Ten teams that have won 13 or more conference games in a season played in the NCAA Tournament. So, Nebraska made history Sunday. An awful sort of history that will arise often in coming years as bubble teams are scrutinized. Takeaway: History doesn't always matter.

The Huskers weren't even among the official "first four out" (St. Mary's, Baylor, Notre Dame and USC).

Evidence indicates even a win against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament wouldn't have been enough to get Nebraska in the Dance. This is where I risk sounding cold and unfeeling. Fact is, the Huskers were awful in Madison Square Garden with selection committee chairman Bruce Rasmussen on hand. They had a grand stage on which to make their case. If anything, they gave the committee a reason to remove them from strong consideration.

I say it all the time. Give me results over rhetoric. I really liked the idea of Nebraska having to earn respect in the Garden. The game had every ounce of my interest. You saw what happened. It was ugly. Worse, it was typical.

Those damned facts. They were a cold, hard rain to Nebraska hoops fans on what we'll call "Sit-down-and-take-your-medicine Sunday." The fact is, the Huskers defeated only one team in the Big Dance (Michigan on Jan. 18 in Lincoln). Of the Huskers' 22 wins, only six came against teams with overall winning records (Boston College, UTSA, Michigan, Maryland, Indiana and Penn State).

Rasmussen said the committee favored teams with wins against teams in the tournament and tournament-caliber teams. Those wins were a separator, he said.

If you're wondering why Oklahoma is dancing, even with an 8-11 Big 12 record and eight losses in its last 10 games, Rasmussen had an answer.

"We look at the entire body of work," he said. "The games in November and December count the same as the games in February and March, and Oklahoma had six wins against top 35 RPI."

Oklahoma also has a once-in-a-blue-moon-type of player in Trae Young. He garners a committee's attention and respect. The tournament is made for TV. Young draws viewers. Think of OU's inclusion as a business decision.

Meanwhile, in the gray Nebraska grim, a lot crossed my mind, including a conversation on "Early Break" (93.7 FM) last January with respected national basketball writer Andy Katz. He said there's no reason Nebraska can't mirror Wisconsin's success on the hardwood.

The Badgers reached 19 straight NCAA Tournaments before the streak ended this season. They made two Final Fours (2000, 2014) and had a national runner-up finish (2015). Although I agree with Katz's assertion, the Huskers face a ridiculously long climb to those type of heights. But Miles has an excellent team returning for next season, if he can keep the roster intact.

Forgive my skepticism regarding Husker hoops. It's ingrained in me. After all, I've witnessed first-hand much of what appears on page 169.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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