Rematch on the horizon?
Creighton, Nebraska on third-round collision course
It's not enough that the state of Nebraska will have two teams in the NCAA men's basketball tournament for the first time since 1991.
Both Creighton and Nebraska were sent to the West Region site in San Antonio and would play each other Sunday if they win their openers Friday. No. 3-seeded Creighton (26-7) is matched against No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette (23-11) and No. 11 Nebraska (19-11) will play No. 6 Baylor (24-11).
"We'll have a few of our friends in red that will be there with us. I think it's a great thing for our state," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said Sunday at the Bluejays' watch party in Omaha.
Creighton is in the NCAA tournament for the 19th time and third year in a row. Nebraska (19-11) had to sweat a bit before finding out it would make its first appearance since 1998 and seventh overall.
Loud boos came out of the crowd of 2,000 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln when Creighton's name appeared on the big screen at the Huskers' watch party. Those same fans were cheering wildly moments later when Nebraska's name popped up.
"I think the state of Nebraska is going to take over the River Walk down there," Miles told the fans. "Now, I want you to be nice to those Creighton fans. Don't dump them in the river. Be nice. They're good people. Let's hope for a second-round matchup with those guys. I think we would welcome that a great deal. I think they would, too."
Creighton and Nebraska, whose campuses are 50 miles apart, play each other every regular season. The Bluejays have won 12 of 16 meetings since 1999, and they've won by double digits the past three years. Creighton won 82-67 in Omaha in December behind Doug McDermott's 33 points.
"Stories kind of make the tournament fun. That's why people watch," said Doug McDermott, the Big East player of the year. "March Madness is about as good as it gets. But I know Tim Miles is focused on Baylor. It's hard to look ahead when you're playing a great team like Baylor. It would be really cool to see them."
The Huskers thought they locked up an NCAA bid after upsetting then-No. 9 Wisconsin in Lincoln a week ago. Some doubts crept in after they blew an 18-point, second-half lead against Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament and lost 71-67.
Miles, who led the Huskers to a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten in his second season, said he feared the Huskers might have to go to Dayton, Ohio, for a play-in game. Terran Petteway said he was worried about being left out.
"I was nervous the whole day," he said. "When they called our name, I didn't care who we were playing against. I was just happy to be in the tournament."
Creighton had no reason to worry, even though it lost to Providence in the Big East tournament championship game. The Bluejays' seed is their highest ever.
The Bluejays' Jahenns Manigat said it'll be a week of anticipation for college basketball fans in the state.
"It's just neat for basketball in Nebraska overall," he said. "Coach Miles has done a terrific job with those guys over there. It's exciting to have that potential matchup. But we can't look past our matchup, and they can't look past theirs."