Minnesota Golden Gophers: 21-13, 9-11 in the Big Ten
Head coach: Richard Pitino (6th season)
Players to watch: Amir Coffey (16.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG); Jordan Murphy (14.8 PPG, 11.5 RPG); Gabe Kalscheur (9.9 PPG, 41.6 3PT%)
Season recap: It has been a season of highs and lows for Minnesota, which won at archrival Wisconsin for the first time since 2009, but also was blown out at Big Ten bottom-feeder Illinois. The Gophers have been inconsistent, yet have managed to scrape together a tournament resume thanks to two wins against Purdue, Iowa and Wisconsin. At its best, Minnesota can compete with the best of them, but Richard Pitino’s squad is also capable of some baffling losses.
Amir Coffey is the key offensive player for the Gophers—the swingman can knock down threes and get to the basket with ease. His shot comes and goes, though, making him easier to defend if he is unable to hit his jumpers. Jordan Murphy is an undersized double-double machine who is an elite rebounder, but can be exploited on the defensive end for his lack of height. Minnesota, as a team, struggles to limit transition baskets.
How they make a run: The good version of the Gophers shows up and they spring a few upsets behind Coffey and Murphy’s offense and increased defensive intensity.
How they falter: The version of Minnesota that lost to Illinois appears once again and the Gophers get picked apart defensively and struggle to generate easy baskets.