The Nebraska men’s basketball team (22-10, 11-5 Big Ten) is set for its NIT match-up against Mississippi State (22-11, 9-9 SEC) tonight. Tip-off from Humphrey Arena in Starkville, MS is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
There’s still no avoiding it – the Huskers feel disappointed in not only missing the NCAA tournament, but being bumped down to a 5-seed in the NIT. Senior guard Evan Taylor is angry, and so are his teammates, but that could provide a source of motivation for this game.
“I think it was tough at first,” Taylor said. “It was a heartbreak for us to not get in the tournament, but then to be a 5-seed (in the NIT) was kind of like, ‘Oh man.’ But, practice (Monday) was really competitive, so that’s a good sign that guys are going to go out there and give it there all. We feel like we can win the tournament.”
Nebraska held one practice in Lincoln on Monday, and will practice once in Starkville before Wednesday night’s game. Overall, head coach Tim Miles has been pleased with the response and overall energy.
“I thought (Monday) was a spirited practice,” Miles said. “I thought it was one of our better ones we’ve had in two weeks. It’s all we’ve done for two weeks is practice. So, we decided to change it up a little bit. Instead of practicing here, we’re going to go there and get a practice in. It helps we’ve already been there a couple of times to shoot and then play.”
The Huskers beat the Bulldogs 76-72 in a preseason exhibition in Starkville on Oct. 22, 2017.
As for Nebraska’s seeding, Miles says that he and Marc Boehm have reached out to members of the NIT selection committee to try and get an explanation for their low seeding.
So far, not surprisingly, no response.
“I don’t have any answers of why,” Miles said. “I just think it’s a slap in the face. I said, ‘that’s fine. That’s everybody’s prerogative.’ I guess if we can win at Mississippi State, can win at Baylor and then win at Louisville, hopefully we’ll make the first four out for Joe Lunardi.”
Despite the national perception of Nebraska and the Big Ten Conference this year, Miles is proud of what his team has accomplished, and believes they can play at a high level in this tournament despite being inactive for 12 days and being left out of the bracket they really wanted.
“Contrary to popular belief, I think we’ve had a good season,” Miles said. “I think that our kids have played well for the most part. I want to get them back on the floor and get them competitive. I like what we’ve been doing and I like where we’re at.”
If Nebraska wins tonight, they’ll face Baylor in Waco sometime between Friday and Monday. Baylor beat Wagner Tuesday night 80-59.
You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226, or you can follow on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.