Nebraska Cornhuskers road to double bye starts against Minnesota

The Nebraska Cornhuskers basketball team has a couple of different paths to a double bye in the Big Ten tourney, but they need to start by winning Sunday.
Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Juwan Gary (4) dunks against Minnesota
Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Juwan Gary (4) dunks against Minnesota / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Nebraska Cornhuskers took a big step in getting off the bubble thanks to their win over the Indiana Hoosiers earlier this week. On Sunday evening, the Huskers could take a very big step towards earning a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. 

The Huskers are currently ranked 5th in the conference, with the top for seeds in the Big Ten getting to sit out two rounds of conference tournament play. At the moment, Nebraska finds itself a game behind both the Northwestern Wildcats and the Wisconsin Badgers. But there is an avenue where Fred Hoiberg’s squad could jump at least one of them.

Of the three teams, the Nebraska Cornhuskers have the easiest path to the end of the season. However, there is a debate in that position, considering that none of the trio are running through a murderer’s row of opponents to work towards the end of the season.

Sunday starts the Huskers last four games with what might end up being the toughest game of the quartet. Fred Hoiberg’s crew takes on the Golden Gophers in Lincoln. That’s a Gophers team that has played well of late and have 17 wins on the season.

Should NU get past Minnesota, they’ll travel to Ohio State, who just fired their head coach. Since Chris Holtman was canned, the Buckeyes upset second-ranked Purdue and then lost to Minnesota. Per ESPN, the Buckeyes stand the best chance of the next four opponents of beating Nebraska since the Cornhuskers have been awful on the road, outside of that win over Indiana.

Nebraska Cornhuskers road to double bye starts against Minnesota

Assuming Hoiberg’s Heroes get past both Minnesota and Ohio State, they’ll finish the season with a home game against Rutgers and a road game against Michigan. A 4-0 finish isn’t out of the question.

Meanwhile, Northwestern is at Maryland, vs Iowa, at Michigan State and home against Minnesota. 4-0 is possible there, but far from a guarantee. Wisconsin’s schedule is the toughest down the stretch. They have Indiana on the road, #12 Illinois at home, Rutgers at home and then home against #3 Purdue.

The Huskers will need to be one game better than either Northwestern or Wisconsin in order to get the double bye. That will allow the Nebraska Cornhuskers to move into a tie in the standings. And that’s when the tiebreaker goes into effect.

The first tie breaker is head to head. Nebraska is 1-1 against both Wisconsin and Northwestern. Throw Michigan State in there and the Huskers are 1-0. The second tiebreaker is winning percentage against the #1 seed in the Big Ten. That’s Purdue. Should everyone finish tied in the standings, the Nebraska Cornhuskers would win the tiebreakers again Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan State.

The most interesting thing about all of that is that while a double-bye is still in reach, so is the number 3 seed. That would be quite the finish to the regular season for the Nebraska Cornhuskers basketball team.