Stop it. This is no time to yawn. It's February, one of the best months on the sports calendar. A month of intrigue, mystery and magic. Where every game is the end of the world.

OK, that's if you have a team trying to make the NCAA basketball tournament.

For college hoops fans, this is September in Major League Baseball. Late November and the first week of December in college football. With 68 spots up for grabs.

College football has a playoff, but only four to seven fan bases are involved. And the playoff committee releases rankings each week.

The NCAA Division I Basketball Committee doesn't release a morsel up until Selection Sunday.

Which brings us to intriguing games like Creighton at Butler.

Both teams need it. Both teams are on some form of the bubble. Or, so they think. A win tonight doesn't mean either is in. A loss doesn't mean either is out.

But, clearly, this time of year, you want to win. Or, not lose.

There's a bracketologist in every arena seat, with an RPI chart or a logarithm sheet from noted hoops metrics guru Ken Pomeroy. They'll update you on CU's status after Tuesday's game.

But I enlisted some hints from a man in the know — Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen, a member of the NCAA Basketball Committee — to provide some helpful hints for the bracketologists.

RPI: "The RPI is like a 5-iron on the golf course," Rasmussen said. "It's something I might use. And if I do use it, I hope it works. But we don't use it all the time. We don't use it as much as people think. We don't ever talk about RPI."

Other metrics, such as the "Kenpom" rating, go on a "Nitty Gritty" sheet for each school. Rasmussen said the metrics are used by committee members as a guide to form a big-picture, total-resume opinion of each school.

"For instance, I'm in charge of the Big Ten for the committee," Rasmussen said. "I might get up and talk about Maryland.

"I won't mention their RPI. But I'll talk about their offensive and defensive efficiency, which we get from Kenpom. Good wins, road wins, nonconference schedule, shooting percentage. How often do they get to the line. Are they balanced?"

Top 50 wins: "We talk about it, but it's easy to get tricked by the top 50. What's the difference between No. 47 and No. 53? Those two teams are basically the same."

Conference RPI: "It's never mentioned. But that doesn't mean it's not important. Where it's a factor is this: If you're in a high-rated league, you have a better chance of getting good wins and less of a chance of a loss that hurts you."

Number of conference wins: "It doesn't come up. It's hard to measure because it goes from league to league. Again, if you're in a good league, and you win 10 games, you more than likely have some good wins.

"But I go back to the Big Ten. Until this week, Indiana had not played any of the other top five teams in the Big Ten: Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa or Purdue. And they only play those teams a total of five times, whereas Wisconsin plays them nine times.

"It's hard to get a read on number of league wins with all the unbalanced schedules."

In the end, every school is placed on the board and compared to others based on their individual merits. Then, it comes down to the opinions of 10 individuals.

Win or lose Tuesday, nobody knows what Creighton-Butler will mean, except the committee, and they won't know it for another four weeks. It's the biggest game of the year — until the next one. That's the fun part. February Fun.

There are two new photos in Mike Riley's recruiting lounge, next to his office. They're shots of Riley with Steven Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson, posing in front of Nebraska's five national championship trophies. Riley said he's started to collect photos he takes in front of the trophy case.

Those sweeps at home to Denver and Miami don't look nearly as perplexing for UNO hockey now. DU is tied with UNO at No. 8 in the recent PairWise Ratings (the top 16 make the NCAA tourney) while Miami has moved up to No. 20. Now here comes No. 2 St. Cloud State.

One of the arguments I hear against starting men's hockey at Nebraska is how long it will take to get competitive. Some use Penn State as the example. Bad example. In their fourth year of playing NCAA hockey, the Nittany Lions (18-8-4) are 14th in the PairWise, in line to make the tourney. Yes, Penn State hockey had a long-time tradition as a club sport. Still, that's a big step up in competition. Just saying.

The only thing UNO guard Tra-Deon Hollins can't steal on the court is the spotlight. Hollins earned his first Summit League player of the week honor Monday — the same day Creighton guard Maurice Watson was Big East player of the week and Nebraska guard Glynn Watson was Big Ten freshman of the week.

And we're lucky we get to watch them.

If Jim Harbaugh wants to have spring football in the Bahamas, that's OK by me. But spare us the indignation from the Southeastern Conference. Welfare of the student-athlete? From the League of Oversigning? This is about gaining an edge, and not giving up ground. It's about egos, championships, all that jazz. Hey, if the SEC wants to hold practice in Toledo, I'm sure it's available.

Central Nebraska is not South Padre Island (OK, it's close) but I've always thought the Huskers should annually hold a spring practice or scrimmage around the state. Bring it to the people.

One more and I'm outta here: I'm always excited for lunch, but next week the menu is especially good. Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook will be my guest on Feb. 23 at noon at the Omaha Press Club. This should be fascinating.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1025, tom.shatel@owh.com twitter.com/tomshatelOWH

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. And share with us - we love to hear eyewitness accounts.

You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.