Friday, March 13, 2009

Gophers' Fate Lies With Selection Committee

The Gopher basketball team played 20 pretty good minutes on Friday, followed by 12 dreadful minutes, and finished up with 8 decent minutes against Michigan State, but it wasn't enough, losing 64-56 to the regular season champions in the Big Ten Tournament. The loss knocks the Gophers out of the tournament and puts their fate squarely in the hands of the NCAA Selection Committee, whose final decision is revealed this Sunday afternoon.

Minnesota came out strongly and its defense was giving Michigan State fits early on. The Spartans were getting chewed up by the Gophers on the glass and their shots weren't falling early. Devron Bostick gave the Gophers a boost early and finished with 12 points off the bench. At the half, the Gophers trailed by just three points.

In the second half, Michigan State's defense simply did not allow Minnesota any good looks at the basket. The Gophers went ice cold from the field, and the Spartans simply closed them out. The Gophers made them work a bit at the end, but it was too late.

Damian Johnson had 19 for the Gophers. Minnesota shot a miserable 38% from the floor and really struggled beyond the arc (3-16) and at the free throw line (13-27). The Gophers' defense forced 15 Spartan turnovers and held them under 50% from the floor.

The Gophers' fate remains to be determined.'s Joe Lunardi of Bracketology fame lists the Gophers as a "lock" for the tournament, so things are looking good. However, we'll anxiously await 5pm CDT on Sunday for the selection show.

Elsewhere in day two of the Big Ten Tournament (3 out of 4 today; 6 of 7 thus far):
  • Ohio State 61, Wisconsin 57 = I missed this one, but I'm certainly not sad. Huge game for Evan Turner of OSU.
  • Purdue 79, Penn State 65 = Despite four of five Penn State starters reaching double figures, Purdue was too much.
  • Illinois 60, Michigan 50 - Mike Davis paced the Illini, who will be without starting guard Chester Frazier for the balance of the tournament. He injured his hand in practice earlier in the week. Big loss for the Illini.

Saturday's Games, with predictions:

  • Ohio State vs. Michigan State - The Spartans won both regular season meetings. Michigan State will play better than they played against the Gophers and win this one.
  • Illinois vs. Purdue - Illinois won both meetings between the two squads in the regular season. The Frazier injury will be hard for Illinois to overcome, but their athleticism will overtake Purdue.

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