Matchups against seven teams that made the NCAA or NIT highlight a daunting non-conference schedule for the Husker men’s basketball team in 2018-19.
The Huskers’ 11-game non-conference slate includes four NCAA Tournament teams (Seton Hall, Clemson, Creighton and Cal State Fullerton) as well as NIT qualifiers Oklahoma State and Southeastern Louisiana. NU will also face another postseason qualifier in the 2018 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Classic Powered by ShotTracker, as Elite Eight finisher Texas Tech and NIT qualifier USC are on the opposite side of the four-team bracket in Kansas City. Nebraska faces Missouri State in the opening round at the Sprint Center on Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. and will face either Texas Tech or USC the following evening.
For Nebraska Coach Tim Miles, the non-conference schedule will test a roster team that returns its top four scorers, including returning All-Big Ten picks James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland Jr., as the program looks to build off a 22-11 record and NIT berth in 2017-18.
“I think this schedule will prepare us for the Big Ten,” Miles said. “It is a very challenging slate with teams from other major conferences and postseason teams all around. The extended Big Ten season of 20 games will also be good for us and great for our faithful fans. We are excited for it to begin.”
The reduced non-conference slate was necessitated by the Big Ten increasing to 20 conference games beginning this season.
The Huskers open the season with a pair of regional round games in the Hall of Fame Classic at Pinnacle Bank Arena. After an opening night matchup with Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday, Nov. 6, the Huskers will take on a Southeastern Louisiana team which won 22 games and shared the Southland Conference title in 2018 on Sunday, Nov. 11. The three-game homestand concludes on Wednesday, Nov. 14, as Seton Hall makes its first appearance at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Pirates went 22-12 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Kansas last March.
After the Hall of Fame Classic concludes in Kansas City, Nebraska returns home for a matchup with Western Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 24 before traveling to Clemson for the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Monday, Nov. 26. The Tigers tied for third in the ACC en route to a 24-win season and berth in the Sweet 16. The game at Clemson wraps up the first portion of non-conference action, as the Huskers will play a pair of Big Ten games against Illinois on Dec 2 and at Minnesota on Dec. 5.
Following its two Big Ten games, NU will take on three straight postseason teams during the second half of non-conference play. On Saturday, Dec. 8, the Huskers host Creighton in the annual in-state matchup. The Bluejays won 21 games and reached the NCAA Tournament in 2018. After a break for finals, Nebraska heads to Sioux Falls, S.D. for a neutral-site matchup with an Oklahoma State squad that won 21 games, including a sweep of Kansas, and reached the NIT quarterfinals.
The Huskers return home for their final two non-con matchups, hosting NCAA qualifier Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Dec. 22, before closing non-conference play with a game against Southwest Minnesota State on Dec. 29. Cal State Fullerton returns four starters from a team that went 20-12, including Kyle Allman Jr., who led the Big West in scoring last season at 19.5 points per game last season. Southwest Minnesota State is coached by Brad Bigler, who played point guard all four years that Tim Miles coached at the school. The Mustangs went 25-9 last year and reached the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament.