The Gophers' post-season hopes took a fairly sizable nose-dive over the long Presidents' Day weekend. Not only did they fail to make a close game of a road loss at Indiana, but each of the teams that could have helped their resume also lost.
-Georgia fell outside the top-25
-Iowa fell outside the top-50
-Western Kentucky fell outside the top-100
-Nebraska failed to crack the top-100, and fell further from it
With a 10th regular season loss, and now a 5-8 conference record, Minnesota has an increasingly narrow margin for error in regards to a potential tournament bid. It is unusual for a team to be selected with a losing conference record, although not impossible. A 4-1 finish to the regular season would all but clinch a selection, but is also unlikely, with two games remaining against Wisconsin, and a road game at Michigan State. The silver lining is that the difficulty of their remaining schedule will likely bump the Gophers into the low-50's SOS ranking, which could be a resume booster if they're still on the bubble come Selection Sunday. Below are a few updated scenarios that should garner the Gophers an at-large bid.
A 4-1 finish in Big 10 regular season play (loss at Madison). Even if bounced in the first round of the Big10 tournament, a 19-12 (9-10 B10) record with 4-5 top-50 wins would get them awfully close, depending on what a few other teams do. An opening round win in the conference tournament - 20-12 (10-10 B10) should clinch a bid.
A 3-2 finish in Big 10 regular season play (losses at Madison and Lansing). This scenario would likely require at least two wins in the Big10 tournament to get to a 21-13 (10-11 B10) record. Even that might not be enough, as 13 losses is typically a tipping point for tournament selection, unless it's paired with a top-10 SOS or an impressive number of quality wins.
A 2-3 finish in Big 10 regular season play (2 losses vs Badgers, 1 vs Spartans). in this scenario, the Gophers would need to win at least 3 conference tournament games, likely reaching the finals to solidify a selection.
A 1-4 finish in Big 10 regular season play. Regardless of the scenario here, the Gophers would be eliminated from at-large consideration, and would need to win the Big10 tournament to receive an automatic bid.
Games to watch tonight:
-Saint John's @ Georgetown - these teams are on opposite sides of the bubble, and although Georgetown needs it more, St. John's stands to gain more from a victory than the Hoyas. A Red Storm victory would also benefit the Gophers' SOS.
-South Carolina @ Georgia - a win here for the Bulldogs may push them back into the top-25, thereby giving the Gophers' resume a nice boost.
-Wake Forest @ Notre Dame - although quite unlikely, a victory by the Demon Deacons would not only help the Gophers' SOS, but would also bump their RPI within reaching distance of the top 100 (currently #129).
-Cleveland State @ Western Carolina - a late season non-conference matchup with minor SOS implications for the Gophers, rooting for the Catamounts in this one...I'll forgive those who don't recall which school this mascot belongs to.
Finally, a quick update on my 'Zaga-is-overrated' spiel from last week. As you'll notice below, a 5th loss for Kansas still leaves them well ahead of Gonzaga on the 2-line. The unfortnate reality for the Bulldogs is that they don't have any more resume builders on their remaining schedule, including the WCC tournament. They won't play another tournament team before Selection Sunday, so in all likelihood even if they win out they won't have a shot at a 1-seed unless at least four teams ahead of them each lose 2+ more games. For those that will make the '14 Wichita State comparison, I'll post a rebuttal in the very near future.
1's: Kentucky, Virginia, Villanova, Duke
2's: Kansas, Wisconsin, Arizona, Gonzaga
3's: Maryland, Louisville, Utah, Notre Dame
4's: Baylor, Butler, North Carolina, West Virginia
5's: Northern Iowa, Iowa State, Indiana, Oklahoma
6's: Arkansas, Wichita State, VCU, Oklahoma State
7's: Georgetown, Ohio State, San Diego State, SMU
8's: Providence, Temple, Colorado State, Illinois
9's: Cincinnati, Texas, Dayton, Saint John's
10's: Iowa, Georgia, Xavier, UCLA
11's: Ole Miss, Michigan State, North Carolina State, LSU, Texas A&M
12's: Wofford, Oregon, Massachusetts, Green Bay, Bowling Green
13's: Stephen F. Austin, Old Dominion, Harvard, Iona
14's: Murray State, Eastern Washington, UC Davis, Georgia State
15's: South Dakota State, High Point, Florida Gulf Coast, William & Mary
16's: North Carolina Central, Albany, American, New Mexico State, Texas Southern, Saint Francis (NY)
FFO: Stanford, Miami (FL), George Washington, Boise State
NFO: Pittsburgh, BYU, Tulsa, Davidson