Busting Brackets

Big Ten Basketball: Minnesota, Northwestern and Nebraska rise in latest power rankings

Illinois v Purdue
Illinois v Purdue / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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4. Nebraska (13-3, 3-2)

Something special is cooking in Nebraska this year and it’s certainly not what we expected. The Cornhuskers have not sniffed the Big Dance since 2014 and haven’t exactly been a contender since joining the Big Ten around that time. Fred Hoiberg’s fourth season was right at .500 last season, which was significantly better than his first three seasons, but this one seems to be the real deal.

The Cornhuskers rode an easy schedule to a 7-0 start before getting blasted by rival Creighton and losing a tough game to Minnesota, but Nebraska bounced right back. They got a nice win against Michigan State and then won by 16 on the road at Kansas State. Beating Indiana last week was great but couldn’t touch their performance on Tuesday, as the Cornhuskers handled #1 Purdue in a shocking 88-72 win.

Keisei Tominaga has been outstanding, Brice Williams does great work, Rienk Mast was a fantastic addition, and the rest of this roster is doing what Hoiberg has been telling them. These Cornhuskers are legitimate for the first time in several years and these conference wins at home have them in position to claim a trip to the Big Dance. Keeping this up is the key, especially in tougher games on the road; though that trip to Manhattan proved they can handle their own outside of Lincoln.