We've looked at the projected NCAA men's basketball field from about 17 angles in trying to figure out if by virtue of their victory over Penn State on Thursday the Gophers are any closer to feeling confident about their chances on Selection Sunday.


All signs point to "no." It's still truly 50-50 right now. Maybe even more like 40-60. ESPN has Minnesota as the very last team out. CBS has Minnesota as the second team out. The Gophers got some good news when Cal, a similar bubble team, was bounced early from the Pac-12 tourney. And, of course, beating Penn State was a must in any of these equations.

But at the end of the day, we have a nagging suspicion it's going to take one more win. A victory over Wisconsin, projected by some as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA field and certainly as a high seed regardless, would come far closer to sealing the deal. We're not sure if it would get the Gophers out of the Tuesday play-in game, but it would make them feel very good about getting in the field.

A close loss? Well, that would sure be better than a blowout loss. How you play is a factor. The Gophers will certainly lobby, too, that one of their best players (Andre Hollins) was out with an injury during a critical stretch of losses (though that argument will also be balanced with the fact that the team's best win, over Wisconsin, came with Hollins playing only a minute).

But if they want to eliminate most doubt and turn 40/60 into, say, 85/15, they need to beat the Badgers again. For all the angles and math, it's about as simple as that right now.

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