Read my full game story on Minnesota's 80-68 win over Rutgers in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at United Center in Chicago here.
Three quick observations before I go off into the Chicago night:
Rick Pitino in the house. The Louisville coach has a game tomorrow vs. North Carolina in the ACC Tournament at 2 p.m. ET. No matter, he was here for support at the behest of his son, who was apparently riding him on the fact that he hadn't been to a single Minnesota game this season (save for the matchup in Puerto Rico, in which he was coaching from the other bench). He spoke to the team -- and particularly the seniors -- before the win. "It was nice of him to come," Richard said. "I said, 'Where were you at Wisconsin? Could we have gotten you then?'"
They'll need more than that to get past Ohio State. Nice finish and all, but Minnesota can't rely on Joey King to score 20 (even though he has 39 in the last two games now) and it shouldn't need two massive runs in the second half to get past the league's worst team and losers of 14 straight. The Gophers didn't defend Mack n' Jack -- guard Myles Mack and big man Kadeem Jack -- all that hard with the pair netting 33 points between them. Minnesota will have much tougher defensive assignments tomorrow vs. the 6-seed Buckeyes, starting with Big Ten Freshman Player of the Year D'Angelo Russell, who scored 27 on Minnesota in the first half of the two teams' last meeting.
Andre Hollins is off again. The senior has now been held scoreless for 66 consecutive minutes, dating back to the first half of the Penn State game last Sunday. The most discouraging thing about that is he's seemed to disappear in that time, failing to get involved offensively today and not trying other things to get his game going -- like getting to the foul line, Pitino pointed out after the game. Minnesota will need both his shooting touch and a better defensive presence vs. Ohio State tomorrow, to roll past the Buckeyes.