In our most recent NCAA bracket predictions, we had Minnesota in as one of seven Big Ten reps, with a rather unimpressive 10 seed.
After the Gophers dropped back-to-back games to Big Ten also-rans Nebraska and Purdue, even that seems generous.
They’ll finish the season 8-10 in the B1G, with only one league road win to their credit, from way back in early January when they won at then-No. 12 Illinois. A resume that could once be described as “shaky” has edged over into delirium tremens territory. Home wins over Michigan State, Wisconsin and a top-ranked Indiana squad still look impressive, but bad road losses rub off a lot of the shine.
Minnesota may well get in, but their showing in the Big Ten tournament just became crucial. An early loss could boot them right off the bubble and into the NIT. Only an auto-bid can remove the weight from Tubby Smith’s shoulders right now, and that won’t be an easy get with five nationally-ranked teams gobbling up the top seeds in the conference postseason.
What do the Gophers need to do to get into tourney shape? I’m glad you asked. Turnovers and poor defense are blighting Minnesota’s stat sheet. They gave the ball up 13 times at Purdue, in keeping with a season-long tendency to get loose and sloppy with the ball at the worst times. The Boilermakers also lit them up for 54 percent from the floor, which is the Boilers’ best showing of the season.
Right now, the Gophers will be lucky to play in the First Four.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.