NIT Championship: 6 P.M. VS. Southern Methodist
Madison Square Garden • ESPN, 1500-AM
Minnesota at a glance: The Gophers (24-13) are back on the stage they departed disappointed two years ago. They slipped past fellow No. 1 seed Florida State 67-64 in overtime Tuesday, and did it with an extremely limited frontcourt. Starting center Elliott Eliason did not play (and is again questionable with an injured left ankle), and power forward Joey King played only seven minutes after getting into quick foul trouble. But junior forward Oto Osenieks, who hadn’t played since March 9 because of knee problems and had announced he was retiring as a player, stepped in for 32 minutes and was able to help the Gophers salvage a victory. Guards Austin Hollins (17 points), Andre Hollins (13 points) and DeAndre Mathieu (17 points) all scored in double digits for only the fourth time since the start of the conference season. All four of those games were wins. Tuesday marked Minnesota’s 24th victory of the season, tying an official school record. It also gave Pitino the most first-year victories of any current Big Ten coach.
SMU at a glance: Mustangs coach Larry Brown is back in familiar digs. Less than a decade ago, the Hall of Famer called Madison Square Garden home, coaching the New York Knicks in 2005-06. Brown is still the only coach that has won both an NCAA title (1988 with Kansas) and an NBA title (2004 with the Detroit Pistons). SMU (27-9) was on the verge of the NCAA tournament this season but instead landed on the wrong side of the selection committee’s bubble, getting the distinction of being the first team out. The Mustangs have built their successful season on the country’s 17th-ranked defense, which is especially strong inside. SMU lands at No. 7 nationally in two-point defense, allowing opponents to convert only 42.2 percent of those shots. The Mustangs’ 27 victories are one short of tying the school record. Sophomore forward Markus Kennedy, who averages 12.4 points and seven rebounds, has put up 40 points and 19 rebounds during the past two games.