Quinn: What could 2017 hold for local sports?

A few potential headlines all fans can hope for
Quinn: What could 2017 hold for local sports?
Posted at 11:53 AM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-04 12:53:06-05
Reflecting back on 2016 makes you realize the year was quite the mixed bag when it came to Omaha area sports. For every positive, it seemed like there was a negative to balance it out. 
Take Terence Crawford, for instance. He wins an epic fight against Viktor Postal, goes 3-0 on the year, yet is facing possible jail time (having already served briefly) following an incident at a body shop. 
Nebraska football debuted in the top ten of the College Football Playoff rankings, yet dealt with a DUI arrest by one of their top assistant coaches and most important recruiters. 
And of course, the biggest story of 2016, the tragic death of Sam Foltz, was met with the full range of emotions throughout the football season. From the sorrow surrounding his death, the anger from when his brother’s house was robbed, to the touching tributes that Husker opponents made throughout the year. 
So, while its safe to say that the local sports scene in 2016 had its ups and downs, lets keep things on the sunny side to kick off 2017. 
Here’s a few potential massive local sports headlines (yet somewhat realistic) that 2017 could bring that would put a smile on fans’ faces. 
Creighton basketball reaches Final Four
After watching the Jays compete to the bitter end with top-ranked Villanova this past weekend, this isn’t as crazy as it sounds. While the majority of the Big East season still looms in front of Creighton, the Jays have put themselves in position to compete for a top three seed in the NCAA tournament come March. 
If that happens, the sky is the limit. This could be a very special year for Greg McDermott’s team. 
Terence Crawford defeats Manny Pacquiao on PPV
LIVE from Las Vegas, no less. 
Crawford needs a mega-fight like this on pay-per-view to take the next step in his career and enter boxing’s stratosphere. He’s already on everybody’s pound-for-pound top-ten list, and has proven to be an elite fighter in the ring. 
Hopefully he can put his legal issues behind him, get Pacquiao’s camp to agree to the fight at some point in 2017, and (most importantly) win. 
One note - according to a recent report by the Manilla Times, this fight isn’t necessarily likely to happen in early 2017. The story:
Nebraska football lands five-star WR
It’s been a few years since the Huskers netted a consensus five-star player at any position, and top target Joseph Lewis would certainly fit that bill. 
He’s set to announce on national signing day, and the Huskers will face a late push from several west coast schools (including USC), but right now Nebraska appears to be the leader. He’d join an already deep class of wide receivers, a position that suddenly has become a need for Nebraska. 
Husker football wins Big Ten West, plays in conference championship game
Pipe dream? Maybe. 
Some of it depends on how strong you think the Big Ten West is going to be next year. 
Wisconsin should be back, but does graduate several key defensive players that helped make that unit so special in 2016. 
Iowa will be breaking in a new QB (and had zero passing offense anyway), and could lose top RB Akrum Wadley to the NFL draft. 
Minnesota? Don’t even get me started. Train wreck city right now. 
Northwestern could prove to be a top three team in 2017, and can never be counted out. Illinois and Purdue still seem years away. 
A lot of the Huskers success also depends on how different (and how prolific) their offense is in 2017. 
It’s a stretch, and I certainly wouldn’t bet on it right now, but stranger things have happened. 
UNO Hockey reaches NCHC Frozen Face-off finals, earns bid to NCAA tournament
Despite reaching the Frozen Four a few years ago, UNO Hockey has never made the trip to the NCHC Frozen Face-off finals in Minneapolis. UNO has already proven they can win on the road against NCHC competition, and skate with the best in the league. 
A home series in the opening round of the conference tournament would be a big boost, and would require a top four finish in the league. If they do that, an NCAA tournament bid should be a strong possibility. 
Nebraska basketball rallies for NCAA tournament berth
Think this is crazy? Check the RPI right now. You’ll find the number “44” next to the word “Nebraska.” 
Two of the Huskers toughest Big Ten road trips have already resulted in wins, and if they can net 11 or 12 conference victories (and given the Big Ten this year, that might not be crazy), watch out. 
A long shot? For sure. A possibility? We’ll see.