When it comes to men's basketball, Nebraska and Northwestern share a far more notable distinction than the nickname NU.
These two schools, who meet Thursday night in Evanston, Ill., have never won an NCAA tournament game.
The only other school in a power conference without a tourney victory is South Florida. But the Bulls, 0-2 all-time, have only been a member of the Big East since 2003.
The two NUs have been trying to figure out this postseason dance thing while in a major conference since the tourney started in 1939.
Northwestern is winless because it has never reached the tournament. The Wildcats hosted the first NCAA event 73 years ago. Too bad that didn't include an automatic invitation.
Nebraska has qualified six times — once under Moe Iba, five times under Danny Nee, most recently in 1998 — but went one and done each time.
Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said Monday there has been no commiserating with Nebraska coach Doc Sadler about the NCAA burden they bear.
Carmody, who has weathered a blizzard of questions on the topic in his 12 years at the school, was gracious enough to cooperate with me and discuss the drought on the Big Ten coaches call.
"At the beginning of the year, people talk about it, like at media day,'' he said. "We started off pretty nicely this year, so there was a little more talk.''
The Wildcats exploded to a 10-1 start, with the only loss to Top 10 Baylor. But starting with a setback at Creighton on Dec. 22, Northwestern has dropped seven of its past nine games.
"With only two wins lately, it doesn't come up that often,'' Carmody said. "For people to start talking about it, we're going to have to go on a winning streak. I think when you get close, people start talking about it.''
In that regard, Carmody has created a lot of conversation the past three years.
Northwestern has gone 17-14, 20-14 and 20-14 with three straight NIT appearances. Last season ended with an overtime loss in the third round of the NIT.
But during a late-season slide in 2011 that knocked Northwestern off the NCAA bubble, the student newspaper called for Carmody's firing.
The hot-seat talk is building again with the current slump. The debate is this:
Has Carmody, criticized as a mediocre recruiter, taken the program as far as he can with the players he gets and the style he plays?
Or is no timetable long enough to retool a school with an all-time winning percentage of .409, a conference percentage of .318 and no NCAA tourney wins?
Hmm. Sounds like the two NUs have more in common than we thought.
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