Minnesota Golden Gophers: Ticket Punched

Bob DunhamContributor IMarch 12, 2009

The Minnesota Golden Gophers punched their ticket to the big dance with a win over Northwestern in a 66-53 victory. 

They now have the daunting task of playing Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tourney.  Even with a loss in the next round, the Gophers, with their strength of schedule and a RPI in the top 40 in the country, should be a no lower than a No. 10 seed.

The gophers have five victories over top-50 RPI teams—including Louisville, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, and a Wisconsin sweep—which are all headed to the NCAA Tourney.

Tubby Smith has done a tremendous job in only his second year getting the Gophers this far.  He has an outstanding freshman class that includes Ralph Sampson III, Colten Iverson, Damion Johnson, and Dovoe Joseph.

The Gophers may not do a lot of damage in the NCAA Tournament, but they are getting valuable experience for the freshman class. They should go far in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.