The Minnesota Golden Gophers have a really bright future as a basketball program. The school seems committed to making it so. Couple that with Richard Pitino being the son of a Hall of Famer and all the transitive property that it must bring (only half kidding), things are looking up.
Still, I doubt that many felt that this year’s team would have a large impact on the Big Ten or college basketball in its entirety. Yet here we are, a day after Minnesota beat the Ohio State Buckeyes, asking if this team is as good as the record may indicate.
Here is the thing about that, though. Minnesota might have just earned their biggest win of the season (14-4), but they are only 3-2 in Big Ten Conference play. Even with their in-conference record, though, much of it could be explained away.
Losses to Michigan State in overtime and to Michigan by three are not exactly “bad” losses. What they are, however, are losses that people within the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will be able to look past and unquestionably not hold against them. Sure, it would really bolster that postseason resume had they won them, but losing them is unlikely a huge knock to their dancing dreams.
Is it too early to even talk postseason resume? Definitely not. Well, at least not in Minnesota’s case. After beating Ohio State, the Gophers now have two more games against ranked teams coming up, at Iowa and home against Wisconsin. Which will end a four-game streak that saw the Gophers play the best of the best of the Big Ten (Best of the Best? I’m an Only the Strong kinda guy. Because it is necessary).
That will end the most difficult part of their entire schedule. Splitting those two games, after splitting the previous two, is really going to help them find a pair of pretty slippers.
(Okay, Best of the Best is really solid too. You know, when Julia Roberts’ brother dislocates his shoulder and helps Sean Penn’s brother win some tournament or something)