Xeroxed copies of brackets are pinned to cubicle walls across America in anticipation of the start of March's annual "Madness." Amateur office bookies are collecting five and ten dollar bills from last minute entrants, each of whom believes they can employ their personal method of bracketology to foresee the hidden upsets and ultimately "win the pool."
March Madness is a tradition with which even the most casual hoops follower has become familiar, but this year the Big Dance could be a bit more dramatic for fans of college basketball located here in Minnesota. For the first time since 2013, there's a team from our state on the dance card.
The NIT Champion Golden Gophers
basketball team is trying to replace graduated guards Maverick Ahanmisi, Malik Smith and most significantly NIT Most Valuable Player Austin Hollins.
They are on their way after signing Minnesota’s own Jarvis Johnson, a point guard from DeLaSalle in Minneapolis. At a shade over 6-feet tall and 175 pounds, Johnson will have to play big to keep up in the Big Ten’s rough and rowdy conference.
After head coach Richard Pitino’s hiring last year, he was working quickly to catch...!--more-->
In case you missed it, on Thursday the Minnesota Golden Gophers beat
the SMU Mustangs 65-63 to win the NIT Championship.
First off, let me boldly
clarify my position right up front lest there be any confusion: Ultimately, the NIT "matters" hardly one iota in any pure competitive sense.
If you are a major school (like Minnesota) playing in a major conference (like the Big Ten), success in the NCAA Tournament is the...!--more-->
In case you haven't noticed, the Gopher men are still playing basketball.
In fact, they've won three straight games — at home against High Point
, St. Mary's
and Southern Missisippi — they now find themselves headed to New York City.
Last Tuesday, Austin Hollins — who has now
played in more games (139) than any player in U of M basketball history — scored 32 as part of the Gophers 81 - 73 win over the visiting Golden Eagles from Southern Miss.
The win allows the Gophers to join Clemson, Florida State and SMU as the last teams standing in the NIT,...!--more-->
March Madness is nearly here and the Golden Gopher’s are #1!
Well, sort of.
After Friday's blowout (83 - 57) loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament, the Gophers found themselves on the outside of the proverbial “Bubble” looking in on “Selection Sunday,” failing to earn one of the 68 coveted berths to the prestigious NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Shortly after being shunned for a ticket to the Big Dance, the Gopher men received some consolation by being chosen as a #1 seed in the National Invitational Tournament (or NIT).
Within college basketball circles, the NIT has acquired a strong stigma as little more than a “left-overs” bracket which includes “the best of the rest” of the teams that were not invited to the NCAA Tournament. For lots of Gophers’ fans, a number...!--more-->
Well, the Gophers are unequivocally dead to me and I don't want to waste too much of my breath talking about them. Last Wednesday night's loss to Illinois at The Barn was possibly the worst loss in the history of Gopher basketball since I've been paying attention to it. Here's the story:
We got trounced
... at home
... by the worst team
in the conference... in a must-win game
for our tournament resume.
I mean, as far as “devastating losses” go, that one took the all-time cake for Gophers Basketball. I hadn't even recovered...!--more-->
Modern coaching legend Rick Pitino was in attendance at Williams Arena during the Minnesota Gophers Men's Basketball Saturday-night-slump-snapping (66 - 60) victory over the Indiana Hoosiers.
He wasn’t at the game alone.
Pitino, who was seated next to a man wearing a chicken suit, is the head coach of the #14 ranked Louisville Cardinals -- on Saturday he was simply a spectator at the historic "Barn" to support his son Richard, who is in his first season as...!--more-->
Though the Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team is off to a surprising start with a 15-6 record, one man remains forgotten in this unforeseen success story: Tubby Smith.
Fired at the end of last season, Smith was let go as head coach of the Gophers even though the team reached the treasured NCAA tournament. Not only that, the Gophers advanced to the second round after upsetting UCLA in last year’s tournament. The firing was a strange move by the Gophers and drew much criticism from around the country. After all, Smith was 124-81 (.610) in six...!--more-->