Reader interest in Gophers men’s basketball is sky-high. In a season of 101 surprises, that fact is not one of them.

Richard Pitino’s bunch is a fun team to watch, the players are have interesting personal stories and the 180 from last March is a great storyline. Plenty to like there.

Along with the spike in interest, we’ve fielded enough questions and comments about the team’s pending postseason to be motivated to write up what's next for the team. If you don't already have this memorized, here's a Gophers hoops survival guide:

First: The Big Ten tournament

The Gophers (23-8, 11-7) received a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament, meaning they don’t play today (the tournament, held in D.C. for the first time, starts at 3:30 Central) or Thursday. Minnesota, the No. 4 seed, first plays Friday at 1:30 p.m. (TV: ESPN) against the winner of a second-round game between Michigan State, the 5 seed, and the winner of today’s football school showdown: Nebraska-Penn State. Take a late lunch Friday if your cubicle doesn't get ESPN.

If they win …

The Gophers would play again at noon on Saturday, on CBS (Ch. 4). Their opponent on Saturday would be the winner of No. 1 Purdue vs. the Michigan/Illinois winner.

If they win …

They’d play at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Big Ten title game (also on CBS, Ch. 4), against No. 2 Wisconsin or No. 3 Maryland, or maybe No. 6 Northwestern or No. 7 Iowa, or … whichever team survives the bottom half of the bracket. Marcus Fuller, the Star Tribune college basketball beat writer, broke down the tournament field and left some clues behind on which teams might make it to Sunday.

If they win …

They’ll be Big Ten tournament champions, for the first time. A run like that could boost Minnesota as high as a No. 4 seed in the NCAAs. Minnesota's NCAA seed range, depending on various Ws and Ls, seems to be No. 4 through No. 8.

Then: NCAA tournament

No matter the outcome of this weekend’s tournament, the Gophers are in THE tournament. They will play Thursday or Friday (a shocker would be for them to be chosen as one of the eight teams to play in the First Four games on Tuesday and Wednesday), at one of eight first-and-second-round sites. Those sites are: Buffalo, N.Y.; Milwaukee; Orlando; Salt Lake City; Greensboro, N.C.; Indianapolis; Tulsa, Okla.; Sacramento. If you have a road trip in mind, you're rooting for Milwaukee or Indy.

If they win ...

Sweet 16 and the regionals: March 23-26. Here's where Gophers fans will really be thinking "Road trip!!" Possible destinations: Kansas City; San Jose, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; NYC (Madison Square Garden). K.C. is an easy drive, and the other three have plenty of flights.

If they win ...

Get the SPF. The Final Four is in Phoenix, April 1-3.

More: Without leaving your couch

Following the Gophers in these wallet-friendly ways ...

Our beat writer, Marcus Fuller, is on Twitter all the time. Like, even when he sleeps. Follow him at @Marcus_R_Fuller.

His blog is at http://www.startribune.com/sports/blogs/Gold_in_the_Barn/

We'll have updates before, during and after every game, including a preview of Friday's Big Ten game and Friday's opponent, on our Gophers page: www.startribune.com/gophers.

And the Big Ten's "Tournament Central" site, a good place to visit a few times this weekend, is here: http://www.bigten.org/championships/big10-m-baskbl-tournament-1617.html

And if every year in mid-March, when the first day of the NCAAs rolls out, you scream out "What channel is Tru-TV again?!!!", keep these pages handy, depending on your provider:

DirecTV: https://www.directv.com/guide

Local TV Guide: http://www.tvguide.com/listings/

Enjoy the ride.

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