The Nebraska basketball team will face one of its strongest schedules in the Big 12 era as Husker coach Doc Sadler announced a 31-game slate featuring 16 games (13 opponents) against teams that competed in the 2009 postseason. Eight of the teams Nebraska will face during key non-conference matchups won at least 18 games last year, led by a strong field in a pre-Christmas tournament in Las Vegas that includes possible preseason top 25 opponent Tulsa along with perennial postseason participants BYU and Nevada.Ticket renewals for fans who held season tickets last year will be mailed in late July. New ticket packages will go on sale at Huskers.com and the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 27.
Among the non-conference schedule, the Huskers will face five teams that competed in the postseason last year, including four contests on the road.
“This is going to be a difficult non-conference schedule for us with such a young team,” Sadler said of his squad that could feature eight scholarship players who have never played in a Division I contest. “But we know we need to be tested early and learn how to play together because it will not get any easier in the conference.
“Last season nine teams (including Nebraska) from the league went to the postseason. That may have surprised some people, but it didn’t surprise any of the coaches in this league. I think all of us know that this year, the league will be even more difficult. From top to bottom, the Big 12 will be the best it’s ever been. So we need to be ready to play from Day One and this non-conference schedule will help us get ready for that.”
At home, the Huskers will open the schedule with USC Upstate on Nov. 14. A week later, Nebraska will play host to TCU at the Devaney Center on Nov. 21, the same day the Husker football team takes on Kansas State at Memorial Stadium. NU follows up three days later with a regional showdown with UMKC (Nov. 24) before opening December at home, facing Texas-Pan American on Dec. 2.
Three straight home games from Dec. 10 to Dec. 19 follow, starting against Chicago State, which won 19 games last year to lead all Independent schools in victories. The Huskers turn around two nights later for one of their toughest non-conference home matchups of the year when they host Oregon State on Dec. 12. The Beavers are expected to be much improved for the second straight year, after winning 18 games and earning the postseason title of the College Basketball Invitational. NU finishes the streak with a Dec. 19 matchup against Jackson State, which won 18 games a year ago and finished second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference standings.
After Christmas, the Huskers will host Southern Utah (Dec. 29), Maryland Eastern Shore (Jan. 2) and Southeastern Louisiana (Jan. 5) to round out the non-conference home schedule.
On the road before the start of league play, Nebraska will be heavily tested as all five of its opponents won at least 18 games last year, including possibly three that posted 25 or more victories. NU opens the difficult road schedule at Saint Louis on Nov. 18 and will play in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series at USC on Nov. 29.
The Huskers will also make the trip up I-80 to face Creighton on Dec. 6 and will head to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 22-23. The Huskers will be part of a solid field that will include Tulsa, BYU and Nevada, three teams that each won at least 21 contests and played in the postseason last year.
In Big 12 Conference action, the Cornhuskers will face eight league teams at home, including Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Colorado. Dates for the Big 12 Conference games will be announced in late July or early August after the television contracts are completed with the league’s broadcast partners.
The Cornhuskers will open the season with a pair of exhibition games starting with Arkansas-Fort Smith on Nov. 6 followed by a game against Hastings College on Nov. 10.
Nebraska returns two starters (Sek Henry, 8.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg; Chris Balham, 2.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg) from last year’s squad that won 18 games and reached the National Invitation Tournament for the second straight season. Also returning is senior Ryan Anderson (7.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and sophomores Toney McCray (5.7 ppg, 2.8 ppg) and Brandon Richardson (4.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg). Eshuante Jones, who played just four games before taking a medical redshirt to have surgery on his foot, will return to the court and will be joined by two scholarship centers (Christopher Niemann and Brian Diaz) who practiced with the team last season but have yet to suit up for a game. The Huskers have signed six scholarship newcomers for this fall.