Thursday didn’t produce a ton of interesting basketball, though there were some bubble implications, but there were some significant outcomes, both for on-court and off-court reasons. Here’s what you need to know from the night across the country:
NEBRASKA IS HEADING TOWARD INEVITABILITY
There was hope there for a bit. Maybe misplaced, conceivably a tad bit delusional and perhaps just wishful thinking, but when Nebraska pulled out of its seven-game losing streak with wins over Minnesota and Northwestern, there was at least a glimmer of hope that Tim Miles might be able to salvage this season and possibly extend his tenure in Lincoln.
That belief seems all but extinguished now.
Nebraska lost again, for the third-straight time and 10th in the last 12, in ugly fashion with an 82-53 loss at No. 9 Michigan.
The Cornhuskers just never seemed competitive in the game, and it’s difficult to see that changing down the home stretch of their season with a trip to Michigan State and a home tilt against Iowa on the docket before the Big Ten Tournament. It just felt like the last gasps of the Miles era.
Miles, who talked openly about his job status earlier this month, has gone 112-111 overall and 51-75 in the B1G since taking over the program from Doc Sadler in 2012-13. There’s one NCAA tournament appearance during that time along with a near-miss last year, and Miles’ struggles at Nebraska may underscore the difficulties of that job more than reveal whatever shortcomings he possesses.
The Huskers have just seven tournament appearances in their history and had gone 16 years without one until Miles got them there in 2014. They have never won an NCAA tournament game. There’s fan support and great facilities now, but zero natural recruiting base and no tradition. If Nebraska does move on from Miles, someone will either be enticed with what looks to some as a place with the pieces in place to win big or the big money they could offer, but history suggests this job ends poorly for everyone.
It looks increasingly likely that is coming quickly for Miles.
TRY TO MAKE SENSE OF THE BIG EAST BEYOND MARQUETTE AND VILLANOVA
We know Marquette and Villanova are the Big East’s best teams. After ‘Nova’s win over the Golden Eagles last night, which team of those two is superior is an open question, one that the league will endeavor to answer over the season’s final weeks and then at Madison Square Garden.
There’s no figuring out that conference beyond those two, though.
St. John’s lost at home Thursday to Xavier, 84-73, to leave third place through 10th place in the conference separated by just two games. Four teams have eight losses (St. John’s, Xavier, Seton Hall and Georgetown), two have nine (Creighton and Butler) while two have 10 (Providence and DePaul).
Glass half-full argument here would be that there’s a ton of parity in the conference and its cannibalizing itself, but that seems a charitable interpretation. More likely, it’s just that the league is pretty mediocre.
St. John’s spot in the NCAA tournament looks secure, but a home loss to Xavier isn’t going to do much to improve its or the Big East’s reputation. Though the league is so jumbled, who knows what’s a bad loss or a good win beyond those two teams at the top.
It’s just hard to make much sense of the whole thing.
JOHN BEILEIN MAKES FOR GREAT INTERNET CONTENT
We already covered the Nebraska/Michigan game above, but the entire idea of this post is that it contains everything you need to know from the night of hoops. And this John Beilein video is absolutely essential and fantastic enough it needs its own section.