Tim Miles made history this year in Lincoln, becoming only the third coach to lead the Cornhuskers to the NCAA tournament. Along the way, Miles and his players captured the hearts and imaginations of many B1G fans. The enthusiastic second year coach managed to put all the pieces together and create a winner. For the next few years you can expect to here fans of lightly regarded teams reference this Nebraska team as the example of what a team picked to finish at the bottom can do in the conference.
A new arena can do a lot for a team, and Pinnacle Bank Arena was home to unprecedented success for the Huskers. The team managed a stellar 15-1 record at home, with the only loss coming by one to league champ Michigan. Another major change coming into the season was the addition of transfers Terran Petteway and Walter Pitchford after sitting out a year.
Petteway, Pitchford and the rest of the Nebrasketballers played through the non-conference schedule as expected. The Cornhuskers finished a disappointing 7th in the Charleston Classic, but helped the B1G retain the B1G-ACC Challenge trophy with a win over Miami two games later. They were unable to slow down superstar Chris McDermott in a loss to in-state rival Creighton before wins over Arkansas State and The Citadel. Finally a loss at Cincinnati ended the non-conference slate for Nebraska.
The rest of the Huskers season can be easily split into three parts, each featuring a game against the Buckeyes from Ohio State. The first four games of the B1G were a nightmare for fans, including losing by 31 in Columbus. The stretch also included the home lose to Michigan and away losses to Purdue and Iowa. No one could have expected a rematch with OSU to turn out like it did.
Petteway and Shavon Shields would both score 18 points as the Huskers beat the Buckeyes 68-62 and finish the regular season by going 11-3 down the stretch. A stretch that included victories over Wisconsin at home and Michigan State on the road. The surprise run propelled Tim Miles' team into NCAA Tournament consideration and fourth in the B1G, setting up a #4-#5 match-up against Ohio State in the BTT.
The B1G and NCAA tournaments turned out to be a disappointment for a squad with little postseason experience. In Indianapolis, Nebraska let Ohio State come back from an 18 deficit and steal the win away. The Cornhuskers were still selected for the NCAA Tournament despite the early exit from the BTT. Former Big 12 foe Baylor met the Huskers in the first round and the Bears controlled the game the whole way, especially after Miles was ejected in the second half.
Expectations will be extremely high next season. With only Ray Gallegos graduating and Deverell Biggs having already been dismissed midseason, this team should return almost all of their scholarship players. Nebraka also brings in two recruits, 6'-10" C Jacob Hammond and PG Tarin Smith, both rated as 3-star players by Rivals.com. Can the Huskers finish even higher in the B1G next year? Will they be able to finally get an NCAA Tournament victory?