On Saturday afternoon Nebraska will celebrate its past, with numerous former players returning to Lincoln for the Huskers’ game against Northwestern and the Legends Weekend festivities. And the current team will dress the part, wearing throwback uniforms inspired by the 1911-12 team.
That team went 14-1 and won the Missouri Valley Conference title, the program’s first league title. Nebraska also recorded a video with Walter Pitchford, Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields going through some “old school” drills (more than a few of them are still used to this day) in the jerseys. There’s Pitchford executing the timeless “Mikan drill,” and Petteway shooting an underhanded free throw (although we don’t get to see the result of the shot).
Embracing their history is something college teams need to do, because those legends can also impact the rebuilding of a moribund program. Get those players on board and they become great salesmen for the current staff, which can prove to be beneficial in regards to recruiting and alumni donations for new projects.
However even with the Legends Weekend festivities, what’s of greater importance to Tim Miles’ team is to get back on track, with an NCAA tournament berth that seemed improbable a month ago within Nebraska’s reach.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: