Nebraska Basketball: Yes, the Cornhuskers Are Really in the NCAA Tournament

Nathaniel WaltersCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2014

Led by Terran Petteway (5) and Shavon Shields (31), Nebraska is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.
Led by Terran Petteway (5) and Shavon Shields (31), Nebraska is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Every year, my older brother Jeremy and I go over our list of goals we would like to see our favorite team, Nebraska, accomplish.

At the top of the list: Beat Texas. In anything. In everything. Especially football. Every Nebraska win and Texas loss moves the Cornhuskers closer to the Longhorns in all-time wins. After the 2013 season, Nebraska sits 10 games back of Texas. That's one game closer than in August, making it a positive season.

Second on the list is to see Nebraska in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. He and I have been competing with brackets for a long time (I'm currently on a 2-year winning streak), and not once have we had to decide between the Cornhuskers and another team.

The dilemma can be considered both positive and negative at the same time. On one hand, there has never been a moral crisis—neither of us ever had to pick Nebraska to lose. 

On the other hand, it was quite depressing because it showed Nebraska's obvious ineptitude in basketball. There are two teams in major (or BCS if you want to relate it to football) conferences that have never won an NCAA Tournament game. Nebraska is one of them. 

Here are some of the teams that won NCAA Tournament games in 2010: Northern Iowa, Ohio, Murray State, Old Dominion. I'll shake your hand if you can name the mascots of all those teams, and that's only one year. Since 1998, more than 25 teams have won their first tournament game. North Dakota State, who knocked off Oklahoma Thursday night, now has a win.

Nebraska doesn't. 

Nebraska, the university with multiple national championships in both football and volleyball, Elite 8 appearances by the women's basketball team and College World Series appearances by both the baseball and softball teams, has never won a men's tournament game.

The Huskers have been close.

In 1991, the 26-7 Cornhuskers earned the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region and were paired up with Xavier as the 14-seed. Xavier never trailed and upset Nebraska 89-84 in Minneapolis.

In 1998, there was a 10-point lead on 6-seed Arkansas with 16:45 left to play. The Razorbacks won 74-65.

Since then, nothing. Not even a bid. Actually, not even really the hope of a bid. Wins in the NIT were something Nebraska fans became proud of because, let's face it, Nebraska is a football state. Always has been. Right?

Not anymore.

With a tireless second-year head coach, new facilities that are among the best in the nation, a team of overachievers that don't believe anything is out of the realm of possibility and the support of one of the most fervent fan bases in sports, Nebraska basketball is real. And it's here. It's now. Home wins over Ohio State and Wisconsin, coupled with a road win at Michigan State and a season sweep of Indiana made a good resume.

Nebraska is in the NCAA Tournament, Jeremy. It's sooner than we thought it would be. The Huskers, seeded 11th, will have a tough battle with Baylor in San Antonio. 

But Nebraska is there. Teams that fail to qualify for the NCAA Tournament have no chance of winning the national championship. Until now, that was Nebraska.

I get a lump in my throat as I say it: Nebrasketball is in the NCAA Tournament.