The Gophers pulled off a big win in Iowa City last night! It was a very close game for the first 30 minutes, until the Gophers pulled away with about 8 minutes to play. In an effort to make things interesting, Minnesota blew an 11 point lead with just over two minutes left, and allowed Iowa to climb within 2 points with 20 seconds left. Clutch free throw shooting sealed the five-point road victory.
Of the other six games last night with implications for the Gophers' resume, two ended favorably. This was the expected result, so no surprise or disappointment there. Based on the road win against a top-40 team, Minnesota's RPI jumped 20 spots to #68. Below are a few resume details to keep an eye on:
Georgia remaining in RPI top-25. The Bulldogs are currently #22, and it will be crucial down the stretch for Georgia to stay hot and remain in the top-25. Aside from Kentucky on March 3, their only real challenge will be @Ole Miss on Feb 27.
Iowa & Illinois remaining in RPI top-50. They are currently #42 and #44 respecitvely, and will greatly aid Minnesota by staying in the top-50. There are currently only 18 teams with more than three top-50 wins (all virtual locks for the Big Dance), so maintaining and adding wins in this category cannot be overstated.
Nebraska moving into RPI top-100. The Huskers are currently #106, and are the Gophers' only loss outside the top-100. If they can move up just 6 spots by March 15th, not only will the Gophers drop their only loss outside the top-100, they'll also add a top-100 win, which might in itself be enough to push them into the field. On Sunday, they'll have an even greater opportunity at Indiana. A win there would most certainly push Minnesota onto the inside of the bubble, with a 4th top-50 win, 6th conference win, and 4th consecutive win (6 of last 8).
It's a very quiet night in college basketball, and the Gophers have no season opponents in action. Below are a couple of non-Gophers-related games that might be interesting to watch tonight:
Arizona @ Washington - A loss for the Wildcats would likely cost them a seed-line, and would bump Washington back squarely into the bubble conversation.
Green Bay @ Valparaiso - Battle for Horizon League supremacy, the winner will be in the driver's seat for top conference tournament seed.
I'm not sure if I'll get a post up tomorrow morning, so if not, I want to give a heads up that 20 of the current top-25 teams in the AP poll are in action on Valentine's Day. The three biggest matchupes are:
Baylor @ Kansas - The Jayhawks will pad their already dominant SOS, and Baylor can move up to a 3-seed with a road win here.
West Virginia @ Iowa State - The cyclones have lost 2 of their last 3 and need to stop the bleeding, while the Mountaineers are entering an end-of-season gauntlet...their remaining games after Saturday are Kansas, @OK State, Texas, @Baylor, @Kansas, OK State. WVU has an opportunity to make a huge statement in the next three weeks!
Villanova @ Butler - Nova is precariously clinging to a #1 seed, and could really use another quality win to keep ahead of Duke & Wisconsin's resumes. Butler is on a roll, winning five straight, and this game might be their last chance to make a major statement before entering the Big East tournament.
1's: Kentucky, Virginia, Kansas, Villanova
2's: Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona, Gonzaga
3's: Louisville, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah
4's: Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Baylor, Butler
5's: Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Arkansas, Indiana
6's: VCU, Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Wichita State
7's: Ohio State, SMU, Cincinnati, West Virginia
8's: Providence, San Diego State, Texas, Illinois
9's: Dayton, Colorado State, Iowa, Temple
10's: Ole Miss, Georgia, Oregon, Stanford
11's: Saint John's, Xavier, UCLA, Boise State, LSU
12's: Tulsa, Michigan State, Old Dominion, Green Bay, Wofford
13's: Stephen F. Austin, Bowling Green, Eastern Washington, Murray State
14's: Harvard, Iona, Georgia State, William & Mary
15's: High Point, North Carolina Central, Long Beach State, South Dakota State
16's: Florida Gulf Coast, Stony Brook, American, New Mexico State, Saint Francis (PA), Texas Southern
FFO: Texas A&M, George Washington, Minnesota, Alabama
NFO: Seton Hall, Wyoming, Davidson, Syracuse