The No. 2 seed Nebraska baseball team (31-12) opens the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Friday at 7 p.m. in Fayetteville, Arkansas, against the No. 3 seed Northeastern Huskies (36-10, 20-3 CAA). It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
The Arkansas Razorbacks are the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and will play New Jersey Tech earlier in the day on Friday at 2 p.m.
Nebraska was one of three Big Ten teams to hear its name called on selection Monday. Maryland was named a three-seed at the Greenville Regional and will play Charlotte, while third-seeded Michigan will take on UConn at the South Bend Regional.
Nebraska and Northeastern each secured automatic bids to the postseason, with the Huskers taking the Big Ten regular-season title, while the Huskies won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament for the first time in program history. The Huskies had to battle back through the loser’s bracket of their conference tournament, going 4-1 over a four-day span, including a championship win over UNC Wilmington when Max Viera hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Nebraska will make its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and the 14th appearance in the last 21 seasons (the 2020 season isn’t included as it was cut short due to COVID-19).
The Huskers enter Friday winners in 11 of their last 13 games and posted an 11-4 record in the month of May.
Northeastern is making its second regional appearance in the last three years after earning an at-large bid in 2018. Overall, the Huskies are making their ninth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the College World Series in 1966.
Friday night’s game will be video streamed on ESPN3. Fans can listen to Greg Sharpe and Ben McLaughlin call the action this weekend on the Learfield/IMG College Husker Sports Network. Every game this season can be heard for free on Huskers.com and the Official Nebraska Huskers App for both iOS and android devices.
Last time out
Nebraska capped a 31-12 regular season with a series win over the Michigan Wolverines. The Huskers shutout the Wolverines in the opener, 1-0, and then due to impending weather on Sunday the teams played a doubleheader on Saturday. Michigan took game one of the double dip, 2-0, before Nebraska responded with a 5-3 victory in the regular-season finale to take the series.
May 28: Nebraska 1, Michigan 0
May 29: Michigan 2, Nebraska 0
May 29: Nebraska 5, Michigan 3
Nebraska and Northeastern meet for the first time on Friday night at 7 p.m. The winner of Friday’s game will meet the winner of Arkansas and NJIT, while the loser falls into the elimination side of the bracket.
NCAA tournament history
Nebraska will be making its 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this weekend, including the 14th in the past 21 seasons (2020 not included due to COVID-19).
The Huskers have advanced to a Super Regional four times since 2000, but haven’t reached the Super Regional round since 2005 when the Huskers made their third trip to the College World Series.
Talented field in Fayetteville
The Fayetteville Regional is hosted by the tournament No. 1 overall seed Arkansas Razorbacks, but also includes three other programs that have produced stellar 2021 campaigns.
- The Fayetteville Regional is the only one of the 16 regional sites to be completely made up of automatic qualifiers. Arkansas (SEC), Northeastern (CAA) and New Jersey Tech (America East) all won their conference tournaments, while the Huskers won the Big Ten regular-season title and earned the league’s automatic bid because there was no Big Ten Tournament this season.
- The four teams enter the postseason on hot streaks, as each program has posted double-digit wins over their past 15 games
- The four teams at the Fayetteville Regional have combined for the best winning percentage in the field with a 139-54 record (.720). The Knoxville Regional is the only other site with a combined winning percentage over .700, as Tennessee Wright St., Liberty and Duke posted a 151-61 record (.712). The Columbia Regional posted the lowest winning percentage, with Old Dominion, Jacksonville, Virginia and South Carolina combining for 120-90 record (.571).
Huskers headline Big Ten awards
Nebraska was well represented when the 2021 Big Ten baseball award were announced, as the program captured Big Ten Player of the Year, Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Year.
- Spencer Schwellenbach is the first Husker baseball player to be named conference player of the year since 2005, when Alex Gordon won Big 12 Player of the Year for the second straight season. He is the seventh player in program history to earn the honor, joining Gordon (2004, 2005), Matt Hopper (2003), Aaron Marsden (2003), Jed Morris (2002), Shane Komine (2000, 2001) and Darin Erstad (1995).
- Max Anderson is the fifth player in program history to be named conference freshman of the year. Chad Luensman was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2016, while Shane Komine (1999), Matt Hopper (2000) and Johnny Dorn (2005) were all named Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
- Will Bolt was tabbed as the league’s coach of the year in his first Big Ten season after last year was cut short due to COVID-19. The Huskers won their first Big Ten regular-season title under Bolt’s leadership and secured the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska posted a 31-12 conference record and won the Big Ten title after not being picked in the top six of the preseason coaches’ poll. Bolt is Nebraska’s second baseball coach to be named Big Ten Coach of the Year, as Darin Erstad earned the honor in 2017.
- Nebraska had four first-team All-Big Ten honorees, its most in a single season since NU joined the Big Ten. Nebraska has previously earned three first-team honors in both 2012 and 2014. Nebraska last produced four first-team selections as a member of the Big 12 Conference in 2005.
- Schwellenbach was the relief pitcher on the All-Big Ten first team and was joined by teammates Luke Roskam (catcher), Jaxon Hallmark (outfielder) and Cade Povich (starting pitcher). Anderson was tabbed as the second-team third baseman and was also honored on the all-freshman team along with Brice Matthews as an at-large pick. Joe Acker was Nebraska’s Sportsmanship Award Honoree.