About two weeks ago on the University of Minnesota's campus, the only rumblings you heard of post-season basketball were "N.I.T."
Gopher fans have been furious with the lack of chemistry on the court with Tubby Smith's basketball team. A dreadful offense had not shown any upside all season.
A once stout defense, lost all of its moxy with the loss of suspended junior guard, Al Nolen. A team once ranked as high as #16 in the polls had fallen flat on their face.
They were all bloodied up and looked to have little hope of a resurrection.
All the drama brought forth by the incoming recruiting class was finally taking its' toll on Tubby. Royce White and Trevor Mbakwe both appeared to be a lost cause. They were supposed to be the saviors of the lackluster offense being run in our half-court sets.
It could be possible that they were the right people, but Gophers fans will likely never know.
It turned out that it didn't matter.
A sophomore star might have been born in the midst of all of this trouble. Canadian, Devoe Joseph has taken it upon himself to become a real threat as the point-guard in Smith's offense.
Freshmen Justin Cobbs should have been red-shirted. He looks nowhere near ready to be playing Big Ten basketball at this point. His turnover ratio is much to high, leaving Joseph as the only true guard who can dribble.
He has a brother who is a top ten recruit overall coming out of high school this year. If the Gophers can land him, they will have one of the best backcourt duos in the country. It is just going to depend on how much he wants to play with his older brother.
Tubby Smith has already had him on campus, and if things go well in the NCAA Tournament, the Gophers could be going into their next season all set in the back-court.
The Xavier Musketeers are up first for Minnesota on Friday morning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You probably can lay pretty good money on it, that the Gophers contingent at the Bradley Center will be significant. It may not be Williams' Arena, but it will definitely give the Gophers a much needed boost.
The play of the sophomore duo of Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson III is going to be critical in controlling Jason Love and Jamel McLean. The inside presence was a key in their consecutive victories over Michigan State and Purdue last week. If that happens and if Senior Damian Johnson is flying around like he was in Indianapolis than the Gophers will get a shot at Pittsburgh or Ohio.
The NCAA Committee did them a favor by granting them a #11 seed instead of a #9 or #10. This way they get to play a #3 seed instead of a #1 ir #2. They also got a gift with it being Pittsburgh. They have played terrible of late, and primed for a pre-Sweet Sixteen upset.
Get your popcorn ready. If Blake Hoffarber and Devoe Joseph can find their strokes, then Xavier will not out-rebound the Gophers. The Musketeers rank 142nd in the country in keeping others off the glass.
To win in the NCAA Tournament you need to be able to take punches, and if the Gophers have not learned how to do that through this season then what have they learned.