LINCOLN — Nebraska’s name popped up on the giant video board in the Devaney Center, announcing that the Huskers received the No. 5 national seed in the NCAA tournament.
Nebraska’s reaction? Crickets.
The Huskers (25-4), making their 38th straight postseason appearance, will spend the first weekend at home. And they are looking forward to the challenges after seeing Sunday’s selection show play out.
Nebraska opens up with MAC champion Ball State (20-11) in the first round Friday at the Devaney Center. Missouri (21-7) and Northern Iowa (24-10) meet in the other first-round match in Lincoln, with the winners meeting Saturday.
“We didn’t really know what to expect,” junior Lexi Sun said. “We saw it and it’s all business now.”
The top four overall seeds, which will host regionals if they advance to the second weekend, are Baylor, Texas, Stanford and Wisconsin.
“I feel good about being the fifth seed,” coach John Cook said. “The committee realizes we won some big matches and we play in a tough conference. I am really happy Wisconsin got a seed. I was worried they wouldn’t get it.”
The biggest obstacle to the Huskers’ quest for a fifth straight Final Four appearance is a possible match with the Badgers in the regional final in Madison. The Big Ten champions swept both meetings with Nebraska this year and have won six of the past eight matches in the series dating to 2014.
“I’m always glad to see Wisconsin,” junior Jazz Sweet said. “That was a toss-up between 5 and 6. It was either going to be them or Stanford. You never know.”
Cook said he wasn’t ready to worry about a potential showdown with Wisconsin yet.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “In some ways, it’s not good because that’s two Big Ten teams that have to play each other before the Final Four, but we’ve got to win two matches here first. We’ll worry about that next week.”
Pittsburgh, which is No. 2 in the coaches poll and received 20 first-place votes, is the No. 6 seed.
Michelle Durban, NCAA volleyball tournament selection committee chair, said the seeding committee examined head-to-head results, strength of schedule, common opponents, the RPI and a team’s last 10 matches to determine the order for the fourth through sixth seeds.
“We looked at those three schools, and we felt that Wisconsin checked the most boxes and that is how they ended up as the four seed,” she said on ESPNU.
Overall, Nebraska played 11 tournament teams including nonconference matches against Stanford, Creighton, San Diego, UCLA and Denver. The Huskers went 9-4 against tournament qualifiers.
The Big Ten was well represented with seven teams in the tournament, ahead of the Pac-12 and SEC, with six each. The Big Ten also had five national seeds: Wisconsin, Nebraska, No. 7 Minnesota, No. 11 Penn State and No. 16 Purdue. Michigan is headed to Kentucky and Illinois is playing in the BYU quad.
Illinois was one of the last four teams in after going 16-13 and 11-9 in league play.
“It’s much deserved. This conference is brutal,” Cook said of the Big Ten getting seven teams in. “If you get a winning record in our conference, you deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. There are not 64 teams better than that.”
The selection show kicked off with highlights of last year’s championship match, where Stanford defeated the Huskers in five sets.
“It didn’t feel good. It was another reminder,” Sun said. “We are always remembering that game and looking back and using it as motivation. We are using it as motivation as we get started in the tournament this year.”