Gophers miss out on NCAA tournament

A win over the Badgers likely would have stamped Minnesota's ticket to the big dance, but the Gophers' 20-13 overall record and 8-10 mark in the Big Ten weren't enough.

Brian Spurlock/Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — The bubble has burst for the Golden Gophers.

The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team missed out on an at-large bid to the 68-team NCAA tournament when the field was announced Sunday. The Gophers won their first game in the Big Ten tournament but lost by 26 to Wisconsin on Friday. A win over the Badgers likely would have stamped Minnesota’s ticket to the big dance, but the Gophers’ 20-13 overall record and 8-10 mark in the Big Ten weren’t enough.

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Minnesota now must wait to see if it earns a trip to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). There’s a chance the Gophers could host a first-round game at Williams Arena.

Under first-year coach Richard Pitino, the Gophers had several big wins, including beating the Badgers in Minneapolis back on Jan. 22 and a victory over Iowa on Feb. 25. But several close losses in Big Ten play ultimately proved to doom Pitino’s team. That includes a 3-point loss to Michigan, a No. 2 seed, to open the Big Ten season.

Perhaps the most glaring loss on the Gophers’ schedule, and one that could have kept them out of the NCAA tournament, was a 55-54 home loss to Northwestern on Feb. 1. Minnesota had two chances to make a layup in the final seconds but couldn’t convert, resulting in one of the Gophers’ worst losses of the season.

In total, six Big Ten schools earned NCAA tournament berths. Two of those six — Michigan and Wisconsin — earned No. 2 seeds.

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