A Gophers loss would drop Minnesota into a four-way tie for seventh, make Big Ten tournament path more difficult
March 9, 2014 — 1:48pm
Minnesota tips off against Penn State at 4:15.
Most bracketology experts agree that the Gophers need some combination of two more wins to slip inside the NCAA tournament bubble.
Meaning that even if the Gophers lose to Penn State on Saturday, their path to the Big Dance is probably not statistically impossible.
But a scenario in which Minnesota drops their finale to the Nittany Lions would make the journey ahead imminently more challenging.
First of all, the Gophers would need to win back-to-back games in a tournament environment on the road -- never an easy task, especially for a squad that has been so inconsistent all season.
Additionally, a loss tonight would put Minnesota in the midst of a complicated four-way tie for seventh place in the Big Ten.
In that scenario, Penn State, Illinois (which just picked up its seventh win with a victory over Iowa last night), Indiana and Minnesota would all sit at 7-11 in the conference.
The four teams' combined head-to-head records against each of the other three teams would then be looked at to determine seeding in the league tournament. In that case, the teams would fall like this:
7. Illinois (4-1 record against the other three)
8. Minnesota (2-2 record against the other three)
9. Indiana (2-3 record against the other three)
10. Penn State (2-4) record against the other three)
So the Nittany Lions can't improve their seeding, but they can avoid playing the Gophers a third time this year.
The Gophers will lock up the 7th spot with a win. But a loss would put them in the 8-9 game against Indiana, possibly the most dangerous team of the four, collecting wins against Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State this year. Minnesota beat the Hoosiers the only time the Gophers played them -- at Williams Arena -- but the Gophers have had much worse success on the road, beating only Penn State and Northwestern.
Marcus Fuller joined the Star Tribune in 2016 after 11 years covering Gophers sports – and just about every other team and league in town -- for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Before making the Twin Cities his home, Marcus spent two years in The Kansas City Star sports department. Marcus grew up in Hawaii and is a 2002 graduate of San Jose State. Follow Fuller on Twitter @Marcus_R_Fuller.