Iowa and Nebraska are neighboring states, but the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers are virtual strangers on the basketball court.
The two schools have not met in basketball since 1976, when back-to-back baskets by Ronnie Lester and William Mayfield allowed the Hawkeyes to pull away from a two-point lead with 13 minutes, 30 seconds left and earn a 71-57 victory in Lincoln. Bruce “Sky” King led a group of four Iowa players in double figures in that game with 15 points and the Hawkeyes helped themselves with a 21-of-27 effort at the free-throw line.
The game is the last of 19 between the teams in a series that dates to 1907, when each split home games with Nebraska winning 27-17 in Lincoln and Iowa earning a 32-29 victory a month later in Iowa City.
Iowa leads the all-time series between the schools 12-7 and hasn’t lost to the Huskers since 1970. Nebraska’s last win in the sport in Iowa City came in 1942.
The most recent tie between the programs came in the 1990s, when Andre Woolridge left Lincoln for Iowa City following his freshman season and hit 104 3-point field goals while averaging 15.7 points over three years in a Hawkeye uniform during a career that ended in 1997.
When the Cornhuskers join the Big Ten for the 2011-12 season, Iowa will be find itself facing a somewhat familiar style of team. Nebraska coach Doc Sadler is an Eddie Sutton disciple and the Cornhuskers play a physical, bump-and-grind brand of basketball that is not all that different from the style of hoops that the Big Ten is known for.
Injuries and youth left Nebraska at 2-14 in the Big 12 last season, the most losses in conference play in school history and the team’s 15-18 overall record was the Cornhuskers’ first losing season in seven years.
Nebraska averaged 66.5 points per game last season, ranking 11th in the Big 12. That average would have ranked fifth in the Big Ten in league play last season.
Nebraska has not won a conference title in the sport since sharing the Big Eight title with Kansas and Kansas State in 1950 and last won an outright league title when it rolled through what was then known as the Missouri Valley Conference with a 12-0 record in 1916.
The Cornhuskers made the first of their six NCAA tourney appearances in the 1980s and have not been part of that field since 1998.
Nebraska plays its home games at the 13,500-seat Bob Devaney Sports Center, although a new 16,000-seat arena in Lincoln’s Haymarket District is expected to open in 2013. Plans also include a new practice facility for Cornhuskers program.