Iowa vs. Nebraska, 3.10

Herbie Husker high-fives a fan as the Huskers take it to overtime against Iowa on March 10 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Nebraska defeated Iowa 93-91.

Fred Hoiberg's first nonconference schedule at Nebraska probably won't be remembered for its rigor.

There's a reason for that.

The 11-game slate, released Wednesday, was put together largely before the Huskers even had their full compliment of players as the program underwent a coaching change and a roster revamp throughout the spring.

With a team full of unknowns and a 20-game Big Ten Conference schedule looming, a nonleague ledger full of games that would bolster NU's NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET)  ranking was likely never in the cards. So, the Huskers will face a run of opponents that largely finished outside the top 100 in last season's KenPom rankings.

Excluding the three games Nebraska will play at the Cayman Islands Classic (because NU's opponents there aren't yet known), the Huskers will face just two teams that finished last season inside the top 100 of the KenPom ratings. Creighton was 55th, while South Dakota State was 92nd.

"Creighton is one of the true great atmospheres in college basketball," Hoiberg said Wednesday on the Husker Sports Radio Network. "I know Greg (McDermott, Creighton's coach, and the coach at Iowa State before Hoiberg) well, and I'm looking forward to it."

Among the seven teams the Huskers could face in the Caymans, only New Mexico State (No. 53) and South Florida (No. 99) were inside the KenPom top 100.

Nebraska opens the season at home Nov. 5 against UC Riverside, which went 10-23 last season and finished 322nd out of 353 NCAA Division I teams in KenPom. The Nov. 5 date marks the earliest regular-season opener in program history.

NU will host Doane on Oct. 30 for an exhibition game at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

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After UC Riverside, the Huskers host Southern Utah (17-17 last season, No. 273 KenPom) on Nov. 9, South Dakota State (24-9, No. 92) on Nov. 15 and Southern (7-25, No. 335) on Nov. 22. The Southern contest is a part of the Cayman Islands Classic, as each of the eight teams in the field will play one home game as part of the event.

"(The Cayman Islands event) is a great chance early in the season to build some confidence in a neutral setting," Hoiberg said. "And that's something we'll talk about — how important it will be to go out there and do it together."

Following the Cayman Islands Classic on Nov. 25-27, Nebraska will travel to Georgia Tech (14-18, No. 115) Dec. 4 before the annual matchup with Creighton. That game will be played on a Saturday (Dec. 7) in Omaha and falls on the same day as the Big Ten football championship game.

The Huskers will wrap up nonconference play with home games against North Dakota (12-18, No. 271) on Dec. 21 and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 29.

NU will also play two Big Ten games in December. Those opponents and dates will be announced at a later time.

In total, Nebraska will have two Friday games (South Dakota State and Southern), two Saturday games (Creighton and Southern Utah) and a Sunday game (TAMU-Corpus Christi) among its nonleague contests.

2019 nonconference schedule (Times TBA)

Oct.: 30—Doane (exhibition).

Nov.: 5—UC Riverside; 9—Southern Utah; 15—South Dakota State; 22—Southern; 25-27—at Cayman Islands Classic.

Dec.: 4—at Georgia Tech; 7—at Creighton; 21—North Dakota; 29—Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


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