The Creighton and Nebraska men's basketball teams meet in Lincoln Thursday night. Both teams are on a roll. The Bluejays are returning to March Madness form while the Huskers are tasting success for the first time in a while. But despite the sellout, the big game may not have a big audience.
This is Nebraska where we're only supposed to care about football, but the success of the two biggest basketball programs in the state is attracting attention, though not everyone will see it because the game isn't being televised.
DJ's Dugout is all about "the game.” No matter what sport or where it is being played, chances are DJ's has it on. So when fans heard about the television blackout they checked with the sports bar. "The phone has been ringing off the hook for the last two days and we've been checking the websites, both huskers.com and gocreighton.com, thinking someone is bound to pick up this,” said DJ’s Dugout general manager Sunni Renner.
ESPN3.com has the rights to the game, but it is an Internet-only broadcast. "This is an exclusive ESPN3-only game and they're not going to release it to anybody because it's a selling point for their website, too, that they're going to show a game that people are excited about."
DJ's will rewire a few screens. “On all of our big screens we will be featuring the Creighton-Nebraska game tonight at 7 o'clock."
Basketball fever is being noticed even in places like Husker Hounds. Football merchandise dominates in the store, but there is a small space for basketball gear, too. Manager Joy Egr has noticed a unique split fan base when it comes to Creighton and Nebraska.
“They've adopted the Creighton Bluejays basketball team. I like the Bluejays, I like watching them, but if I went to the game I would be a Nebraska fan, but I watch the Creighton Bluejays, too."
On the Creighton campus, Bluejay fever is rampant. The bookstore is constantly busy and anything blue flies off the shelf. Theresa Maloney wasn't a huge basketball fan as a freshman, but understands the attraction and hasn't missed a home game this season. A term paper makes watching the game iffy. How bad does she think Creighton fans will feel if they lose to Nebraska? "Bad. We're going to win, there's no discussion, we're going to win."
If both basketball programs continue to win, fans may have to take sides and the rivalry will become a real one.