This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

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Gophers postgame: With win, Minnesota will get 7 seed, PSU again in Big Ten tournament

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: March 9, 2014 - 9:21 PM

Read my full game story on the Gophers' 81-63 win over Penn State here. (Updated version will appear as it is edited.)

According to Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, beating a team three times in a row is one of the hardest things to do in sports.

The Gophers are fortunate enough to have that challenge in front of them.

After roundly beating Penn State at Williams Arena on Sunday, Minnesota heads into the Big Ten tournament as the 7-seed, set to face the Nittany Lions again in the opening round. Had they lost, the Gophers would have been the 8-seed, facing Indiana.

"I definitely think we can beat them three straight times," Mo Walker said. "I think we're a lot more talented than they are, I think we've got a lot more depth than they do."

In this league, no team is a pushover, something Minnesota found when it traveled to State College back in January, narrowly pulling out a win over the Nittany Lions in a game in which DJ Newbill went scoreless.

Still, the Gophers seem to have improved in the last three games.

It's probably the smoothest possible path for the Gophers, who would face Wisconsin in the second round. The Badgers were looking capable of snagging a 1-seed before losing at Nebraska a few hours after Minnesota wrapped up its season finale, but the Gophers proved capable of exploiting some matchup advantages in January, beating Wisconsin by 13 points at the Barn.

One victory in the league tournament gives the Gophers a chance to slide into the NCAA tournament, but the Huskers victory -- all but assuring a spot in the field -- makes that position significantly more tenuous.

"I don't really follow anything about any of the tournaments -- I just know if you win you get in," DeAndre Mathieu said. "So I just go out there and try to win, I don't know about none of the seeding, none of that stuff."

Even so, the Gophers are buoyed by the idea that the Big Ten has been so unpredictable all season. Despite the presence of four ranked teams, it's hard to argue that there is a true favorite.

"We know it's going to be a tough tournament but it's anybody's tournament because our league is so so tough," Mathieu said.


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