Monday, March 13, 2006

Reflections on a Wacky Weekend

I must say that last night's annoucement that Barry Collier was not being fired shocked me. Frankly, it still doesn't make much sense. If you were truly going to give Collier every opportunity to succeed, you would not have pulled out the "no comment" card last month. On the other hand, if you aren't sure Collier is the right guy, why should the two victories in Dallas change your mind? And I'm not even going to touch the comparison's with the Frank Solich situation. I think we're all tired of that discussing that. Perhaps it was a financial decision in the end, though Steve Pederson denies that. (Of course, we've heard plenty of his denials that turned out to be not-quite-so-true though not-quite-a-lie either...)

If we're going to move forward with Barry Collier, Nebraska has to get Husker Hoops back in the mindset of fans in this state. First of all, Nebraska needs to seriously upgrade the schedule. Husker fans will show up for big games; look at the crowd that showed up for Texas Tech, for example. Nobody wants to see Lipscomb, even if they were good enough to make the NIT. Secondly, Nebraska needs to find a way to get an Omaha station to televise the Big XII package of games. Nebraska has ceded practically the entire Omaha market to Creighton.

The doom and gloom from Northern Michigan's sweep in the CCHA quarterfinals over UNO is starting to clear. Last night, UNO's luck started to turn with North Dakota eliminating Minnesota State-Mankato. Then Minnesota-Duluth upset Denver to eliminate the 2-time defending National Champs at home. Today, people started crunching the PairWise numbers and UNO now is in a 4-way tie for 10th. Still on the bubble, but things are looking up. Many of the teams UNO is competing with for an NCAA spot are playing this weekend--- and playing each other.

USCHO has posted a PairWise predictor on their web site and fans have been trying all sorts of combinations. And to the surprise of many of the previously negative folks, most of the combinations seem to work in UNO's favor. It's not a guarantee by any means, but there are more ways UNO gets in than misses. One almost assured way for UNO to lock up a bid is for the Harvard Crimson to beat Dartmouth on Friday in the ECAC semifinals. A Cornell victory over Colgate in the other ECAC semifinal would also be helpful.

UNO's biggest fear is to have a team win an automatic bid in an upset and take away an at-large spot. However, that's not a universal truth. If Northern Michigan wins the CCHA, they jump up in the standings and remove Minnesota State-Mankato from UNO's calculations, and thus boost UNO's ratings. Ah the fun of the math!

Needless to say, the March Madness many Omaha sports fans will be watching this weekend isn't the one with the round orange ball....

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