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FIRST DOWNS AND SECOND GUESSES

Shatel: Iowa may have backed out of a special in-state series, but Nebraska won't

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Nebraska and Iowa appear to be moving in different directions when it comes to hoops scheduling.

Rest easy, local hoop heads. Nebraska vs. Creighton isn’t going away.

Was it? No. But I’ve received inquiries from fans, wondering if NU-CU was in danger after seeing Iowa leave the now-defunct Hy-Vee Classic in Des Moines.

The popular event staged a one-day double-header each December that paired Iowa and Iowa State vs. Northern Iowa and Drake in Des Moines. Each year, Iowa and ISU switched partners. It was great for hoops statewide.

Last Saturday’s Hy-Vee Classic was the last, because Iowa pulled out of the event, citing a clause in the contract that if the Big Ten ever required 22 appearances by Iowa, it would exit the event. The Big Ten went to 20 league games this season, and Iowa’s appearance in the Gavitt Games (Big East) and ACC Challenge make it 22.

NU had the same requirements this year, but head coach Tim Miles said on Monday that won’t effect his scheduling.

“(Creighton game) isn’t changing,” Miles said.

Miles says he still hopes to play in tournaments like the Hall of Fame Classic in K.C., which allowed Nebraska to play Texas Tech, ranked fourth overall in the NCAA’s NET rankings. It would have been a bigger benefit had the Huskers beat Texas Tech.

Miles says he welcomes more games like the Big Eight/Big 12 reunion with Oklahoma State in Sioux Falls on Sunday,  including more games in the Sanford Pentagon.

All of this is great news for Husker Hoops fans, if not entirely necessary. The Big Ten, ranked No. 1 overall among conferences this season, will provide the Huskers all the juice they need to make the NCAA tournament — provided they win their share, of course.

Maybe Miles is still spooked by last year’s NCAA tournament miss and wants to make sure the nonconference résumé is always up to snuff.

In any case, the Nebraska-Creighton game is non-negotiable. But in today’s world of 20 conference games, it’s still nice to hear it.

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» Scheduling is a weird science. The Huskers, 9-2, have played a very good nonconference schedule. But you wonder how much credit they’ll get from the NCAA committee.

In the updated NET ratings, Nebraska is No. 13. That’s high enough that, coupled with all the Big Ten games, the Huskers could get a top six or seven seed in the NCAAs.

That’s a good thing, because NU’s nonconference opponents are off to slow starts. The Huskers have one win over a top-60 foe: No. 59 Creighton. Some of the others are 69 (Clemson), 71 (Oklahoma State), 83 (Seton Hall) and 237 (Missouri State). This week’s opponent — Cal-State Fullerton — made the NCAA tournament last year. The Titans come in at No. 292.

» I won’t call it silly, because of the image of a gun. In that sense, what we saw on the Stanford volleyball white board was bizarre.

Click here for some more thoughts on the issue.

» I remember a motivational gesture that Nebraska fans loved. A week after Tom Osborne won his first national championship in the Orange Bowl, Norm Stewart had his Missouri players wear a special red warmup shirt in pregame at the Devaney Center. The shirts read, “Congratulations Coach Osborne.” After warmups, the Tiger players threw the shirts to the Husker fans.

The only Husker who didn’t like the gesture was NU coach Danny Nee. Stewart’s ploy totally took the crowd out of the game.

» Mikaela Foecke belongs on the top shelf of the greatest Nebraska volleyball players. She’ll go down as the most decorated, for sure.

But the best part of her career was not the decorations but watching her grow along the journey from young star who fit into the equation to undisputed team leader, on and off the floor.

Foecke won’t be forgotten soon — especially next year. The Huskers have spoiled us to expecting great things each year. But Foecke will be missed. With the greatest players, you don’t often know how much they meant til they’re gone.

» I often compare coach John Cook’s career to Osborne — probably too much. But this time reminds me a lot of Osborne in 1997, when he had better players than he ever had and you wondered how many more titles he could have won had he stayed.

You didn’t promise the job to anyone, did you John?

» One more and I’m outta here: So Nebraska and Akron will try it again on Sept. 6, 2025. Anyone know the forecast?

Sports columnist

Tom is The World-Herald's lead sports columnist. Since he started in Omaha in 1991, he's covered just about anything you can imagine. Follow him on Twitter @TomShatelOWH. Phone: 402-444-1025.

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