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Wednesday (Biggest game of Tubby Smith's Minnesota career) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Gophers Updated: February 13, 2013 - 9:57 AM

 

Back in early November, when the college basketball season was in its infancy, we wrote a post wondering if this is finally the year the Gophers would be better than the Badgers in the Big Ten men's basketball standings. A bit of research had led us to a shocking fact: Not since 1997-98, when Minnesota was a paltry 6-10 but Wisconsin was a worse 3-13, had the Gophers topped the Badgers in conference play.

 

Part of this is because Wisconsin has been so consistently good under Bo Ryan. Per research by e-mailer Jamie: "By my math, in the 10 seasons from 2003-2012, only seven major conference programs had a winning record in conference every year. For our purposes, .500 is a winning record. ... If you don't count .500 as a "winning" record, this list is two: Wisconsin and Kansas."

This year, however, looked to be different. Tubby Smith had a veteran team with a bunch of carryover starters, while the Badgers lost Jordan Taylor and were struggling with health issues. Through non-conference play, the Gophers certainly looked to have the upper hand, going 12-1 while Wisconsin struggled with some bad losses.

If you look at both rosters -- at least each starting five -- in the 2012-13 season, we don't think there is much argument (even from rational Badgers fans) that there is more natural talent on Minnesota's side. But here we stand going into Thursday night, with the Badgers already having secured a one-point, classic Ryan victory over the Gophers in Madison: Wisconsin is somehow 8-3 in Big Ten play while Smith's Gophers are 5-6.

Catching Wisconsin in the standings now seems quite unlikely. Thursday night's rematch at the Barn now takes on a different tint: the most important game Smith has coached here.

A victory would put the Gophers back to .500 in the conference, go down as another quality win, and solidify what is already pretty solid ground for, at least, an NCAA tournament bid. The Gophers are still waaaay up there in the RPI at No. 13 thanks to a No. 3 in the country strength of schedule. Beat Wisconsin, finish at least .500 in the Big Ten, win at least a game in the Big Ten tourney, and something like a No. 6 seed -- which comes with a good chance to win an NCAA tourney game and at least a puncher's chance at making the Sweet 16 -- is possible.

A loss, however, would be Minnesota's third consecutive setback and would drop them to 5-7 with road games against Iowa (better than its record), Ohio State (a tough, ranked team) and a home game against Indiana (one of the best teams in the country) looming among the next three. It's not hard to see a streak becoming a tailspin, and a nosediving RPI turning into RIP for a tourney bid -- and perhaps Smith's coaching tenure.

That this critical game comes against a rival that has symbolized squeezing every win out of every season ... well, that makes it all the better. It's not just a game with no love lost on Valentine's Day. In a way, it could be seen as Judgment Day for the season and the program.

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Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
UNLV 79
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65

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