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Not-NCAA Hoops: Nebraska falls, Indiana marches on

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The NIT continues, and we appreciate the dumbness of the CIT.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The NIT and CIT roll on tonight—if we’re not going to get enjoyable upsets or rootable teams in the NCAA Tournament, we might as well find something in the consolation tournaments.

How’d we get here?

[1] Indiana Hoosiers 63, [5] Arkansas Razorbacks 60

Well...we’re done with Romeo Langford, huh? The Hoosiers are riding a short bench as far as it’ll take them in the NIT, with their star out with a sore back, definitely not NBA draft preparations, no sir.

Anyways, this one...wasn’t pretty. Lots of bricks, lots of missed free throws, and the team looking generally as sick as Devonte Green apparently was. Didn’t stop Green, who came up with an 18-and-11 double-double for the Hoosiers and overcame a handful of turnovers caused by the Razorbacks’ swarming defense and press. It’s a good survive-and-advance test for the Hoosiers, who avenged a loss at Fayetteville from the non-conference, but they’ll need better shooting from contributors like Aljami Durham and Rob Phinisee to help them past Wichita State.

[1] TCU Horned Frogs 88, [4] Nebraska Cornhuskers 72

The dream is finally dead.

Against a more athletic—but, interestingly, almost-as-depleted TCU roster—the Huskers finally came up short, as Glynn Watson Jr. (17 pts, 7/19 FG, 2/10 3pt) and James Palmer Jr. (19 pts, 7/25 FG, 3/9 3pt) couldn’t chuck them into one more game. For as much as we love Johnny Trueblood, he’s not meant to shoot six times in a game. But goddamn if he didn’t do it.

The Frogs knew what to do—they went at Isaiah Roby, getting the Huskers’ talented forward in foul trouble and eventually seeing him ejected on a Flagrant 2 for pushing Kendric Davis after a loose ball—forcing Palmer and Watson to make do with Thorir Thorbjarnarson, Trueblood, and Tanner Borchardt on the inside. And whatever a Brady Heiman is.

Borchardt, to his credit, had a monster game: 16 points on a perfect 6/6 from the field, grabbing 13 boards, with an impressive 7 of them on the offensive end. But TCU exposed a thinned-out Huskers defense late, with Kevin Samuel rattling the rim with a couple dunks, Kouat Noi blowing past tired legs on the perimeter, and Desmond Bane continuing to hit shots en route to his game-high 30 points.

And that, likely, will close the book on Tim Miles’ tenure in Lincoln. Neither he nor AD Bill Moos would say definitively yesterday what would happen, but it’s likely that Miles will be fired for failing to win an NCAA Tournament game over his tenure. Miles’ media-savvy personality and the Huskers’ underdog run has been enjoyable, but it’s clear Nebraska is ready to move on.

UPDATE: Seven minutes after I publish the damn article, they moved on:

What’s next?

[1] Indiana vs. [6] Wichita State Shockers

6pm | ESPN | IU -4.5 | O/U 138

[2] Creighton Bluejays at [1] TCU

8pm | ESPN | TCU -4 | O/U 151

The Shockers, long a fixture in March, are catching fire at the right time (for the NIT, I guess), and they’ll be another physical test for the Hoosiers. It’ll be a different test, with the Shockers having the size on the wing in senior F Markis McDuffie (18.3 ppg) and inside with junior F Jaime Echenique (5.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg) to bully Indiana inside (also, I mean, sophomore C Asbjorn Midtgaard, which, ASBJORN MIDTGAARD). The Shockers have the 18th-most offensive rebounds in the country, control the ball, and don’t commit a lot of fouls. It could be a rough one when the Hoosiers have the ball.

From there, it’s G Samajae Haynes-Jones pacing the Shockers’ attack. Both he and McDuffie can pour it in (and will certainly try from distance), and McDuffie does a nice job of getting to the line. I don’t know whether a depleted Hoosiers squad can get through another physical test, this time with a team ready to beat it inside.

Should you watch this game? Yes, but only on mute—it’s Dakich on the call at Assembly Hall, and you don’t deserve that.

Anything else?

The CIT is somehow both in the quarterfinals and the second round. Figure that out.

  • Presbyterian-Marshall (6pm, watchcit.com): This one will be fast and dumb. We’re talking O/U of 168 fast, and bottom-100 defenses dumb. With Dan D’Antoni’s Herd playing their Hillbilly Basketball, this should be a good watch if you can get the stream running.
  • Charleston Southern-Hampton (6pm, watchcit.com): By winning their first-round game, Hampton’s gotten back to .500. Congratulations to the Pirates.
  • FIU-Green Bay (7pm, watchcit.com): The Sunblazers are the country’s fastest team. The Phoenix are the 10th-fastest team. Neither is particularly good at offense or particularly good at defense, but they’re going to run and chuck and do dumb things.

To be honest, if the CIT’s goal was to put the fastest teams in its bracket, it’s kind of a brilliant one—this would be good basketball to watch on some sort of regional ESPN or, shit, CBS Sports Network (I don’t need to see Professional Bull Riding on re-run)...but instead, a shitty streaming service. It’s a bummer.


Open thread for the night’s games if you want it. RIP Tim Miles.