March Madness: Who Wants To Dance With The Minnesota Golden Gophers?
Have you ever wanted to go to a school dance party but you were just waiting for someone to invite you to it?
Well, that's probably how Tubby Smith's Minnesota Golden Gophers (21-12) feel right about now—anxious.
Will they get their ticket to the dance?
After an impressive 69-42 drubbing of the Robbie Hummel-less Purdue Boilermakers (27-5), a game where Matt Painter's men scored only 11 points in the first set; the Gophers may get asked to attend after all.
Of course, beating Ohio State in Sunday's Big Ten Tournament final would all but guarantee that the Gophers will be cutting a rug in March Madness' elite ball.
Ohio State struggled against Michigan, needing a prayer shot from Evan Turner in order to secure the 69-68 win. Thad Matta is an intelligent coach, and he undoubtedly took notes to formulate a game plan to stop those party-crashing woodland creatures.
The Buckeyes don't want a close game with Minnesota, and who would after it's knocked off two of the conference's top dogs in consecutive contests?
An overtime win over the hobbling Michigan State Spartans is where the Gophers' tournament dreams started—and they forged ahead with a full head of steam against Purdue.
These Gophers want to tango with the 65 best squads in the land—and they should.
Granted, Minnesota didn't have a league season to write home about. One thing that the tournament selection committee takes into account is the performance of a team in its conference playoff. Especially close attention is paid to a team like the Gophers, they're on the bubble.
Have they moved off the bubble and slid their way into it? Smith's club has to feel that it's done everything within their power to get to another round of post season play.
Gopher sophomore Colton Iverson has anchored the team looking for a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t. He posted 12 points in 27 minutes against Sparty, and reached double-figures again against the Paint Crew (11 points).
Iverson's physicality has come to the forefront of Smith's offense and translated well on the other end of the court as well.
Ralph Sampson III didn't sink one bucket yesterday against the Izzo clan. He then turned around and bounced back Saturday with a team-high 13 points—and was ultra-efficient defensively with five rebounds and two blocks.
Tournament fans may get their wishes granted, it looks like there's another Cinderella that wants to attend the Big Dance—and it might be the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
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