Lincoln - Nebraska solidified its spot as one of the nation's top 20 women's basketball programs in 2012-13, with top 20 rankings in the NCAA RPI, NCAA home attendance and the final USA Today/Coaches Top 25 announced on Wednesday, April 10.
The Huskers (25-9, 12-4 Big Ten) closed the season March 31 with their second trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in the last four years. The Big Ten regular-season runner-ups stayed strong at No. 16 in the final NCAA RPI rankings, while also finishing the year at No. 16 in the final NCAA home attendance rankings.
Nebraska also climbed to No. 18 in the final USA Today/Coaches Top 25, jumping seven spots by running to the NCAA Sweet 16. It was NU's third top-25 ranking in the last four seasons. The Huskers' leap in the final rankings was the second-largest in the poll, trailing only NCAA runner-up Louisville's 14 spot vault from No. 17 to No. 3. NU entered the NCAA Tournament at No. 25 in the coaches poll.
The Huskers also finished No. 24 in the final Associated Press Poll, which was announced at the conclusion of the regular season. The AP does not conduct a post-NCAA Tournament poll.
The Huskers' 2012-13 success came against arguably the best schedule in school history. NU's regular-season Strength of Schedule was ranked 12th nationally by RealTimeRPI.
Overall, Nebraska played 18 games (10-8) against 2013 NCAA Tournament teams, posting an 8-7 record against teams that advanced to at least the second round in the 64-team women's tournament field. The Huskers played 24 games against teams that advanced to 2013 postseason tournament play, posting a 15-9 record against those teams.
Nebraska went 22-9 against teams that finished among the top 150 teams in the final NCAA RPI rankings, playing only three games all year against teams that finished among the bottom 195 teams in NCAA Division I women's basketball.
The Huskers played nearly half of their games during the season against teams that captured regular-season or tournament titles in their conferences, including league champions from the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Missouri Valley, Southern, Summit and Southland.
Connie Yori, the 2013 Big Ten Coach of the Year, is set to return for her 12th season at Nebraska in 2013-14. Yori and the Huskers are expected to return four starters, including two-time All-American and National Player-of-the-Year candidate Jordan Hooper. The 6-2, senior-to-be from Alliance, Neb., is in position to challenge Nebraska career records for points, rebounds and three-pointers made.
Sophomore forwards Emily Cady and Hailie Sample have both started 67 straight games alongside Hooper the past two seasons, while Rachel Theriot earned Big Ten All-Freshman honors in her first season as a starter in 2012-13.
Other returning letterwinners for 2013-14 include Brandi Jeffery, Tear'a Laudermill and Katie Simon, who have all played significant roles the past two seasons for the Huskers. Sadie Murren and Courtney Aitken, freshmen who battled injuries in 2012-13, will add even more experience to NU's group of nine returning letterwinners.
Incoming freshmen Allie Havers (Paw Paw, Mich.), Hannah Tvrdy (Seward, Neb.) and Esther Ramacieri (Repentigny, Quebec, Canada) will try to help ease the loss of 2012-13 seniors Lindsey Moore and Meghin Williams. Moore, a 2013 honorable-mention AP All-American at point guard, set the Nebraska career assist record (699) while starting (132) and winning more games (94) than any player in Husker history. Moore and Williams became the first Huskers to play in a pair of NCAA Sweet 16s during their careers.
Nebraska will celebrate its first season at the new Pinnacle Bank Arena in 2013-14. The state-of-the-art arena is expected to offer one of the best atmospheres in the nation for women's basketball, as the Huskers finished No. 16 nationally in the final 2012-13 NCAA attendance rankings released Wednesday.