Now that the Gophers are trotting along so nicely, it’s time to play a fun game:
There is one more AP ranking that comes out between now and the Jan. 17 game against Michigan at home. Between now and then, the Wolverines play at Ohio State – where the Buckeyes have lost one game this season, to Kansas -- and the Gophers, of course, go to Indiana.
If Michigan wins at Columbus – and Duke wins its intriguing game at NC State – the Wolverines should stay at No. 2. If the Blue Devils don’t win their game, Michigan could have an argument for moving up to No. 1 (after all, they DID beat the Wolfpack and would remain undefeated), despite the fact that Duke has a bunch more signature wins (Kentucky, Minnesota, Louisville, Ohio State – they’ve beat everyone*).
The question here is: if the Gophers win at Indiana, what could the ranking matchup against Michigan possibly be?
Louisville plays South Florida – a team with some spunk, but probably not enough to challenge the Cardinals. Arizona plays both Oregon and Oregon State. Kansas goes to Texas Tech. Syracuse gets Villanova. But even if all of all of the teams on top of the Gophers win, if Minnesota gets the win over Indiana, the jump should be substantial.
The Gophers would leap-frog Indiana, currently at No. 5. The Gophers’ should be on top of No. 6 Kansas, whose one loss comes against Michigan State (a Minnesota victim). They could jump over Louisville – which also has one loss, against Duke, but has played fewer ranked teams than the Gophers thus far and Syracuse, who I frankly believe should be beneath the Gophers already. Arizona would remain undefeated, but the Wildcats have played a substantially less gritty slate than Minnesota.
How high could the Gophers move up with a win over Indiana? Having just one loss – against the nation’s best team – and wins the rest of the way in what has been the league’s toughest schedule so far this season – would be a good place to be, and so it’s not out of the question that the Gophers would move all the way up to No. 3.
No. 2 Michigan vs. a No. 3 Minnesota? Now that would be worth watching (I’m sure you all weren’t planning to otherwise).
*Aside: you have to love that the Gophers are included in that list of “everyone” who matters.