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The Ridiculousness of the NIT: The 2018 Nebraska Cornhuskers Edition

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In which we remember that the NIT is nothing but an exhibition with no real rationale behind it.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Illinois
“This game is going to send me to Starkville.”
Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Look, I realize that this is going to be a post about the NIT which in and of itself is a consolation prize. Trust me, the absurdity of getting all up in arms over something as unimportant as getting to be considered the 69th (nice) best team in the nation is not something I feel great about it, but as many NIT winners - and their fans - will tell you, this is a real tournament that the NCAA talks about as something worth celebrating.

And you know what? I’m part of that crowd. One of the best moments of my childhood was going to a NIT game in Lincoln with my dad, being part of postseason basketball, and cheering on the home team. No, Nebraska was not Duke, nor were they Kansas (or honestly even Kansas State), but they were there and they were doing interesting things. I realize that the NCAA Tournament is what everyone puts banners up for, but that NIT championship means something to me regardless of what the haters say.

Which brings me back to this year’s NIT tournament and my aforementioned rant. If you didn’t know, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were handed a 5 seed this afternoon, and you’ll forgive me if I didn’t absolutely lose it for a few moments when I learned we wouldn’t even get a home game out of this ordeal. Barring a last second 3-pointer from the Kansas Jayhawks back in December, Nebraska is probably a lock for the NCAA tournament and is chilling as a dangerous 13 seed who can play defense and occasionally not suck on offense. Instead, they will be traveling to Starkville, Mississippi as a reward for not only having a winning record in conference, but also being the four seed in the Big Ten, a real conference no matter what people will tell you

Of course, that doesn’t even tell the whole story, does it? Yes, the RPI woes of Nebraska have been spoken time and time again, but isn’t it just the worst to know that all the Cornhuskers needed to do was schedule a DII opponent instead of Delaware State, and the SOS jumps dramatically? Or, how about the fact that the resume is still 22-10 (13-5) with a KenPom 57 and RPI 56? But wait! There’s more.

But hey, let’s not take my word for it, let’s go line by line...

(1) Notre Dame Fighting Irish 20-14 (8-10) | KenPom 31 | RPI 70

(1) USC Trojans 23-11 (12-6) | 40 | 34

(1) Baylor Bears 18-14 (8-10) | 34 | 68

(1) Saint Marys Gaels 28-5 (16-2) | 28 | 40

Okay, I’m going to be mostly okay with those. Baylor feels like a stretch, but you know, the Big XII is amazing and so is the ACC and whatever, I hate everything...

(2) Marquette Golden Eagles 19-13 (9-9) | 53 | 58

(2) Louisville Cardinals 20-13 (9-9) | 33 | 38

(2) Utah Utes 19-11 (11-7) | 65 | 59

(2) Oklahoma State Cowboys 19-14 (8-10) | 56 | 49

Okay, so this tier is where it starts to feel less okay. I’d almost be willing to say you’re just going off KenPom to this point, but then uh... Utah? UTAH? Are you serious with that noise right here? Nebraska literally is better in every category here. Oh, and before you say fan support, let’s remember that Nebraska averages about 2000 or so more a game, so this is just the worst. BUT WE HAVE EIGHT MORE TEAMS TO TALK ABOUT!

(3) Oregon Ducks 22-12 (10-8) | 76 | 72

(3) Stanford Cardinal 18-15 (11-7) | 84 | 86

(3) Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 24-7 (16-2) | 52 | 33

(3) LSU Tigers 17-14 (8-10) | 61 | 94

I suppose I would concede a 3 seed if you game Middle Tennessee the 2 over Utah, but Nebraska should be above each of these teams. I don’t understand anything. Yes, I’ve now spent a half hour looking up profiles for each of these teams and WE STILL HAVE FOUR MORE TEAMS FORM ME TO FREAK OUT ABOUT!

(4) Penn State Nittany Lions 21-13 (9-9) | 29 | 77

(4) Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 24-10 (14-4) | 60 | 39

(4) Mississippi State Bulldogs 22-11 (9-9) | 62 | 73

(4) Boise State Broncos 23-8 (13-5) | 58 | 50

Nebraska should be above all of these teams. There are some teams individually above Nebraska in one category, but Nebraska looks better overall in an all-up resume. The lowest slot I can imagine for the Huskers would have been a high 3, but instead, Nebraska will be on the road in what is literally one of the most insulting seeding that I can remember for the NIT.

Of course, none of this matters. Nebraska becomes the first Big Ten team with a 13-5 conference record to not make the NCAA tournament. Due to a down year in the conference and the fact that they lost to Illinois - probably - they are also a five seed in the tournament almost nobody but the fans care about. Postseason play is supposed to reward hard work. Nebraska played almost good enough basketball to make the NCAA tournament. Instead... there’s this nonsense. Somehow this is all Barry Collier’s fault.

Poll

This is all stupid, no?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Yes, but like... it’s the NIT
    (169 votes)
  • 41%
    Yes, of course. All of this is stupid.
    (261 votes)
  • 31%
    #$@*)#$&*(#&@$_)@#$(_) YOU BARRY.
    (198 votes)
628 votes total Vote Now