Protect the bubble

Everyone’s into creating a buzz on social media, whether it’s a hashtag or the like.
The big push for Sunday’s Nebraska-Penn State matchup was to replicate No Sit Sunday from 2014 when the Huskers defeated Wisconsin in the final regular season home matchup and went on to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
My push was to do one thing -- protect the bubble.
That’s certainly what the Huskers did, using a big defensive first half to defeat Penn State 76-64 in front of a wall-to-wall crowd at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The main question that will reverberate around the Cornhusker state up until the final brackets are revealed is this: Have the Huskers done enough to make the dance?
A lot of us in the state believe so. The 10-man selection committee? That answer remains uncertain.
However, the Huskers played one of its most complete games of the year Sunday with NCAA committee chair Bruce Rasmussen sitting front and center.
The Huskers finish the year 22-9 and 13-5 in conference play. That’s the second most wins in school history in the regular season and most conference wins in a year.
If chosen, this will be Nebraska’s second NCAA tournament bid in the last 20 years, the other coming in 2014.
Here’s my theory -- play the kind of defense from the first half against Penn State, Nebraska can win the Big Ten tournament and will receive an automatic bid. Can’t keep ‘em out if they win the whole shooting match.
The Huskers held Penn State to 17 points on 26 percent shooting and forced 11 turnovers. The lead at half was 34-17.
Here’s the thing. Nebraska is a wild three-point shot away from defeating a top-25 ranked Kansas team at home in December and this isn’t even a conversation. (Yes, I’m still salty about how that game ended.)
Also with that loss to Kansas, it makes Nebraska’s record at home this year a whopping 16-1.
Realistically speaking, how many games does Nebraska have to win in New York to solidify themselves?
The Huskers earned a double-bye, meaning they only need to win three games to take the whole thing.
Barring a major upset, Nebraska should see Michigan for a second time Friday.
Can the committee really keep out the Huskers, who could possibly feature two wins over Michigan, a team who is believed to be a lock for the tourney, with one of those games being at a neutral site with an entire season hanging in the balance?
I feel like Nebraska is slighted because for the most part, no one has seen them play. The majority of our games have been on BTN, with little to no games on the big sports networks.
The reason that’s a problem is for those of us who have watched the Huskers play, they pass the eye test. It doesn’t take a basketball expert to see that they belong in a 64-team tournament.
Nebraska big man Jordy Tshimanga, who looks much larger from three feet away, was asked what he would tell committee chair Rasmussen if given a one-on-one conversation, and with a bold, deep tone, reveled “Let us in.”
Who’s going to argue with that?

RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at sports@hamilton.net.

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