The state of Nebraska probably doesn't pop into your mind when you think of good college basketball programs and players. Well, folks, in 2014, that's the fact, Jack.

The most notable college basketball program in the state is the men's basketball team at Creighton University. Picked to finish somewhere in the middle of the revamped Big East Conference, the Bluejays finished second in the league during the regular season behind Villanova, a team they beat twice during the regular season. The player getting the most ink is Doug McDermott, er Dougie McBuckets, a descriptive moniker created by the national press corp this season because of McDermott's ability to score anywhere and often on the court.

McDermott will finish his collegiate career ranked in the top ten of all-time scoring leaders in NCAA history. He will also become the eighth member of the 3000 point club when he's done twisting, turning, tumbling, and fade-awaying-ing (not sure that's a word) his way into the record books. As of this writing, he stands eighth all-time, with the regular-season home finale against Providence looming large on March 8th. Then follows the Big East post season tournament, and the NCAA tournament, in which Creighton should receive a high seed.

The hottest team in the state right now may be the men's basketball team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Projected before the season to finish dead last, they are in line to finish dead FOURTH in the Big Ten Conference. All it took head coach Tim Miles to do was toss a disruptive player off the team mid-season, sell the idea of team defense and unselfish offense to his players, allow one of his sophomores to become a leading scorer in the conference, and bingo, his team is on the bubble for gaining a berth in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. A win over Wisconsin at home on March 9th could be the win that cements the NCAA bid.

Let's not forget about women's basketball in the state either. The Husker women finished third in the Big Ten Conference and should receive another NCAA tournament invite following the post season tournament. Head Coach Connie Yori was named Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year, and her player, Jordan Hooper, was name Player of the Year in the Big Ten. In fact, Yori's starting five all made All-Conference in some capacity.

Creighton's women's team finished third in the Big East Conference, and Creighton sophomore Marissa Janning was name Big East Player of the Year. Three of her teammates were named All-Conference in some capacity, also. The University of Nebraska-Omaha had junior center Taijhe Kelly named the Defensive Player of the Year in the Summit Conference. A real head-scratcher is that she was only named Honorable Mention when the All-Conference teams were named. How can you get voted Defensive Player of the Year, and not be named to first or second team All-Conference?

March Madness is only days away. The state will be watching the Creighton men's team the closest, but if Nebraska gets into the tournament, they may be able to surprise some teams. Nebraska women have a good chance to get to the Sweet 16. And it will be even sweeter because the Regional is being played at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Lady Husker's home floor. Creighton women's team could also get to the Big Dance for a second consecutive year.

College hoops fans in Nebraska have watched great basketball this season. Let's hope it continues in the NCAA tournament.

Author's Bio: 

Steve Brennan, a former educator and college basketball coach, has Masters degrees in Educational Administration and Sport Psychology, and a Doctorate in Performance and Health Psychology. He is the author of several books, including Six Psychological Factors for Success and The Recruiters Bible (3rd Edition). He is President of Peak Performance Consultants, and the President and CEO of the Center for Performance Enhancement Research and Education (CPERE). Steve is the developer of the Success Factors Scales, both Corporate and Athletics Editions. and