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Shatel: March Madness in Indy; Bud Crawford deserves Pacquiao; Hunter Sallis' Elite Eight
FIRST DOWNS AND SECOND GUESSES

Shatel: March Madness in Indy; Bud Crawford deserves Pacquiao; Hunter Sallis' Elite Eight

Nebraska will host Illinois on Saturday looking for win number two.

First downs and second guesses while pondering Hunter Sallis’ Elite Eight.

» The Road to Indy goes through ... Indy.

Good call. As COVID-19 figures to be the No. 1 seed all winter, there’s no reason to send teams to Boise, Providence, San Jose or Lexington.

The NBA showed that the bubble approach is the right approach. It’s an economic hit for the 12 first- and second-weekend cities, but there is going to be an NCAA tournament this year. The NCAA and its member schools can’t take that financial hit again.

The only question is when.

It feels like March all over again, as we prepare for possible shutdowns for the winter. Some are already taking place.

The advice here for college sports: Stay safe and healthy. And don’t be afraid to push back the seasons.

For college football, as games are postponed north, south, east and west each week, that could mean pushing back the playoffs.

With most Division I universities not returning to campus until late January — if then — it seems January would be the optimum time to get that done. But we’ll see.

Should bowl games get pushed back to the spring? That would be fun.

College hoops is supposed to begin next week, but nobody will be surprised if that’s delayed. The Big Ten could release its schedule this week, but would be wise to do so in pencil, not ink.

Will the Big Ten allow teams to play nonconference games, unlike football and reportedly baseball (next spring)? It seems TV money would be the only reason to do that.

Whatever the Big Ten and other conferences do, let’s hope they leave room for postponements to be played.

That might mean two-week gaps between games and pushing the regular season into March or beyond. In football, losing three players to COVID for 14 days can be overcome.

In basketball, it’s half of a lineup or rotation.

Iona coach Rick Pitino is calling for the Final Four to be played in April or May. If that’s how it needs to be, why not?

The NBA draft, which takes place this week, won’t happen again until next summer. A late spring NCAA tourney shouldn’t impact seniors.

I hear Indianapolis is lovely in April or May. So, too, is Omaha — site of the 2021 volleyball Final Four on April 22-24.

And then a College World Series in July or, dare I say, August?

I just hope it all happens. It would be a reward for what appears to be a long, crazy winter.

» How about that? Creighton made the Elite Eight.

That is, Hunter Sallis’ final eight list of college choices. It includes Kentucky, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Kansas, Iowa State, UCLA, Oregon and Creighton.

When this city and state produces a wonderful talent like Sallis, it’s good to see a local team in the mix. It’s amazing to think of an Omaha kid wearing some of those uniforms.

Good luck to Sallis and here’s to a healthy and successful season with a deep state tournament run. Whenever that might happen.

» Bud Crawford deserves a bout with Manny Pacquiao. He’s more than earned it. Errol Spence, too.

In boxing’s glory era, this fight would happen just on principle, not only for money. Because boxing people cared about the sport. There was a standard. It was the right thing to do for boxing.

All sides of boxing need to get together and make one of these fights happen. The sport needs the spectacle.

Bud’s earned it.

» Watching Nebraska football and Crawford compete on Saturday has me convinced: Crawford needs to fight in Memorial Stadium.

That sounds crazy. It’s not. For years, the old Yankee Stadium held some of the sport’s legendary fights, including Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali. Also, Ali fought four times in Houston’s Astrodome.

Put the ring on one end of the field or end zone and surround it with seats or bleachers on the field. How many fans would you get? How many do you want?

This only makes sense when COVID has been knocked out, of course.

To avoid rain, schedule it for the summer or, better yet, make it a September doubleheader with a Nebraska game. Have to think Crawford would be up for that. I can see Bob Arum with dollar signs in his eyes.

Somewhere down the line, this needs to happen.

»  Kendall Rogers, the excellent college baseball beat writer for D1Baseball.com, reported last week that the Big Ten won’t allow nonconference baseball games.

You do that in November, really?

Apparently the Big Ten teams would play each other as nonconference games. That should do wonders for the RPIs while the rest of the nation plays nonconference ball.

So Nebraska would be safer traveling to Maryland or Indiana instead of playing in Omaha vs. Creighton? Help.

» I’m nobody’s recruiting expert, but I have issue with this idea that Nebraska basketball’s latest recruiting class is the “greatest in program history.” Or that last week’s NU volleyball class is the greatest ever for any sport.

Better than any of John Wooden’s UCLA classes? Or Dean Smith, Bear Bryant, etc.? It’s apples and oranges.

It’s hype. I’ve had all the hype I can type. I’d rather judge recruiting classes on results, not stars. Let’s come back in four years and see how they did.

The 1992 Husker hoops class of Andre Woolridge, Erick Strickland and Jaron Boone would like a word. There weren’t elaborate rankings back then. But Danny Nee getting local legends Woolridge and Strickland to commit to Lincoln was as big as it got.

What did they do? Woolridge transferred. Strickland and Boone played on teams that won the Big Eight postseason tourney and the NIT title.

If Hoiberg’s big class can be part of historic runs in the NCAA tourney, give ‘em the title. Best ever.

» Saw Ty-Shon Alexander’s name in only one mock draft for Wednesday’s NBA draft. Bleacher Report has the Creighton star going to Atlanta in the second round as the 50th overall pick.

» Kirk Ferentz looks like your pharmacist but in his spare time, he’s a WWE mauler.

P.J. Fleck has gotten under a lot of coaches’ skin. But last week, after his Hawkeyes mashed Minnesota, Ferentz dropped the hammer from the top of the ring.

As the Gophers were trying to score in the final seconds, Fleck called a time out to try and break the shutout. The low-key Ferentz then used all three of his time outs and then took a shot at Fleck in his press conference.

It seemed a little petty, but maybe there’s some other stuff going on between the two coaching staffs.

No question, there were plenty of Big Ten coaches and fans cheering on Coach Kirk. There are no complaints here for anything that spices up this league. Now he just needs a nickname.

» One more and I’m outta here: Big Ten Network shows are top-notch, and BTN did a terrific job on “Andy and Jack.”

The show told the story of the Hoffman family, specifically the father and son from Atkinson, Nebraska, who both have battled brain cancer.

The family’s class, strength and faith shine through. They are great representatives of our state.

I love that the rest of the world gets to meet the Hoffmans. I hate the reason why.


Photos: Nebraska hosts Penn State

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