Time and Date: Wednesday, March 20 @ 9:00 p.m. ET
Location: Pinnacle Bank Arena (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Records: Butler (16-16) | Nebraska (18-16)
Rankings: Butler (#64 NET) | Nebraska (#48 NET)
TV Channel: ESPN2
Watch Online: WatchESPN
Since 2007, the Butler Bulldogs have only missed the NCAA Tournament twice. Over that span, the Bulldogs have boasted an impressive 19-10 record in the Big Dance with two National Championship appearances to show for it. Coming into this season, the Dawgs had qualified for four straight NCAA Tourney bids, winning at least one game in each appearance. It goes without saying that the NIT is never the goal for a program like Butler.
Nevertheless, the 2018-19 campaign was a rare underachieving year for the Indianapolis squad. Butler was “on the bubble” until about the last three weeks of the season when an already disappointing season turned into a complete mess. Things got so ugly that many wondered if the Bulldogs would even receive an NIT bid; they did, and they accepted, earning the chance to face off against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the opening round.
While Butler never had its sights on the NIT coming into this season, the opportunity is a welcome one for LaVall Jordan and his team. Butler has only two seniors this year—Paul Jorgensen and Nate Fowler—and will be returning a wealth of talent next year. This season’s woes were due to a lack of chemistry, offensive struggles, and defensive inconsistency. Most would agree the talent was there. The Dawgs can use as many games together as they can get as they look to improve for next season.
Nebraska, a #4-seed to Butler’s #5-seed, should be a tough opponent. The Huskers started the year off with a bang, winning 11 of their first 13, including blowouts of Seton Hall and Creighton. Similar to Butler, once conference play started, Nebraska had a meltdown, ending up on the losing end of just about every 50-50 game. The Huskers lost seven games in a row at one point, and later lost four consecutive. Towards the end of the season, they managed to right the ship a little, winning three straight before falling in a close on to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament.
Butler is one of five(!!) BIG EAST teams in the NIT field, and could meet Creighton in the quarterfinals if both teams manage to string a couple wins together.