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Huskers miss the cut for NCAA Tournament

During a mentally grueling nine-day wait between its Big Ten Tournament loss to Michigan last Friday to Selection Sunday, Nebraska needed a lot of things to go its way to secure an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.

When the official bracket was finally announced, the Huskers didn’t get quite the help they were hoping for.

Nebraska, who went 22-10 overall and set a school-record 13-5 conference mark, was not included in the 68-team NCAA Tournament field announced on Sunday night.

The Huskers are expected to be a high seed in the National Invitation Tournament, which will be revealed later this evening.

The snub certainly puts a damper on what will go down, at least regarding final record, will go down as one of the best seasons in program history.

It also goes against decades-worth of history NU was banking on helping its cause with the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

The previous 61 Big Ten teams to win 13 or more conference games in a season had made the Big Dance. Nebraska becomes the first not to do so.

The Huskers are one of only three Power Six teams out of 307 to win 13 league games and miss the NCAA Tournament, including one of only two of the 69 Power Six teams to go 13-5 in conference and not make it.

Nebraska also became the first Big Ten with 20 or more total wins and fewer than seven conference losses not to make the tournament.

NCAA selection committee chairman Bruce Rasmussen said during the Selection Sunday broadcast on TBS that some of the hardest and most difficult discussions during the process was deciding the last four teams to make the tournament against the last four out.

The final four teams to make the field were St. Bonaventure, UCLA, Arizona State, and Syracuse. Rasmussen said the Orange were the final team added to the bracket.

“We had intense discussions about the last four in and first four out,” Rasmussen said. “Obviously you’re trying to get the right teams in, and you know that when you put a team in, you’re moving somebody out.

"We had long discussions - I’ve been on the committee five years, and we have never had the length of discussions we had over the last four in and first four out.”

While Rasmussen didn’t discuss Nebraska specifically, he essentially addressed the Huskers’ situation while answering a question about St. Mary’s, who also missed the cut despite going 28-4 this season.

Rasmussen pointed to the fact that while the Gaels’ had an impressive overall record, all but four of their 28 wins came against teams ranked in the third and fourth quadrants.

Looking at Nebraska’s resume, it went just 1-6 vs. Quadrant 1 opponents, including 0-5 away from Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Quadrant 2 record wasn’t much better at 2-3, and again, with just one win coming on the road.

Of Nebraska's 22 victories, only six came against teams with overall winning records (Boston College, UTSA, Michigan, Maryland, Indiana, and Penn State).

“It’s a debate and it’s a discussion about the quality of wins, the quality of opportunities, compared to the quantity of opportunities,” Rasmussen said. “You’re right, there are teams that had more opportunities… We just didn’t feel like there was enough of a resume to put St. Mary’s in.

“Middle Tennessee (24-7) was the same way. They played some great non-conference games, they just didn’t win those games.”