Everyone who follows much bracketology at all probably expected the Gophers to get their bid today when the NCAA selection show aired.
And in the end, Minnesota got about what predicted:
They landed as an 11-seed (they had been in the 9-through-11 conversation) in the South regional, facing UCLA (one of the six teams I had highlighted earlier today) in the first round on Friday.
The Gophers will play around 9 p.m. CT time on Friday, or whenever the earlier Florida-Northwestern State game is completed.
I will get into more match-up details on the Bruins later, but for now, a few notes:
- My story on the tournament berth, not just as another chance for the struggling Gophers, but as another shot for coach Tubby Smith, who could be on the hot seat if Minnesota doesn’t perform well.
- More on the tournament selection, including the players’ (somewhat sullen) reaction and how the Gophers’ non-conference schedule saved them.
*I think UCLA is about as good a matchup as the Gophers could hope for considering their seeding. The other three 6 seeds are Arizona, Butler and Memphis. Butler and Memphis would have been decent matchups as well, but the Bruins are very much a team in flux now, after losing their best player to a broken foot. UCLA fell, 78-69 to Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament title on Saturday night after coming within six points late in the contest. They shot 60 percent from 3-point range and 44.6 from the field in that game, but turned the ball over 14 times and managed just 27 rebounds.
*This will be the Gophers’ 12th NCAA tournament appearance (three of those, however, were later vacated). It will be the third in the Tubby Smith era. The Gophers have not won an NCAA tournament game with Smith at the helm. It will be Smith’s 17th trip to the Big Dance overall in his 22 seasons as a head coach. Smith led Kentucky to a national championship in 1998.
*If the Gophers advance past UCLA, they will face the winner of No. 3 Florida and No. 14 Northwestern State on Sunday.
*Smith said he plans to stand pat on the team’s lineup and wide bench as the Gophers head into the tournament on an 0-3 run. “We’ll play the way we usually play,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot more we can change at this point in time. We’re going to play the people we have and the people we’ve been playing.”
Questions? Join me for my live chat tomorrow at noon.
*Also, a video that includes Sid Hartman, Quincy Lewis, Randball in a jumpsuit, bigfoot, Goldy, and yours truly? It's real. Click.