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Scoggins: Mason, Gophers struggle on big stage

MILWAUKEE – Nate Mason earned first-team all-Big Ten honors this season by being a rock for the Gophers men’s basketball team.

Mason is their best player, their leading scorer and the guy who needed to provide a steady performance in the NCAA Tournament for the Gophers to have a chance to advance.

The opposite happened. Mason had a nightmarish outing as the Gophers looked disjointed for all but a brief spurt late in the second half before losing 81-72 to Middle Tennessee State.

Mason went scoreless in the first half and finished with five points – 10 below his season average.

His backcourt mate Dupree McBrayer also went scoreless in the first half until making a corner three-pointer with 20 seconds left before halftime.

Collectively, the Gophers simply didn’t rise to the occasion.

MTSU’s matchup zone and 1-3-1 trap gave the Gophers fits all game. And Minnesota’s defense was uncharacteristically leaky, which allowed MTSU to get wide-open shots.

I’ll have more later in my column.  

Scoggins: My game-day prediction: Gophers win

MILWAUKEE – The Gophers enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed and as underdogs. Middle Tennessee State has become a trendy pick as a 12th seed.

My editor Chris Carr uncovered a stat that found 12 seeds have been favored six times in tournament history and none since 1999. So this is fairly uncommon.

I understand the reasons – MTSU’s tournament experience, the history of 12th seed upsets, injury to Akeem Springs – but I still think the Gophers win today.

My official pick: Gophers by 5 points.

I seem to be in the minority, but I give the nod to the Gophers because of their defense. Even without Springs, the Gophers’ overall size is disruptive on the defensive end. I don’t know if MTSU faced that kind of length consistently this season.

I wrote in my column today things I believe have to happen for the Gophers to win. I’ll boil it down to two key points, in my opinion:

Reggie Lynch must stay out of foul trouble and Nate Mason needs to play like a first-team All-Big Ten selection. No big surprises there.

The Gophers depth is an issue. They can’t afford foul trouble. It will be imperative that Lynch and Jordan Murphy get a feel for how the game will be officiated early in the game.

The Gophers are a physical team but their post players can’t afford to pick up quick fouls by being overly-physical. They have to find that line.

As for Mason, if he has a strong performance, I think the Gophers will win. He doesn’t necessarily need to lead the team in scoring, but he must assume more leadership responsibilities on both ends with Springs sidelined.

We will have a live blog up and running during the game. Please join us here.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Wild at Detroit

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  • Boston at Twins (spring training)

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  • Twins at Pittsburgh (spring training)

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  • Tampa Bay at Twins (spring training)

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  • Timberwolves at Indiana

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  • Washington at Wild

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  • Twins at Boston (spring training)

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  • Twins at Tampa Bay (spring training)

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  • Ottawa at Wild

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  • Sacramento at Timberwolves

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  • Real Salt Lake at Minnesota United FC

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Today's Scoreboard

  • Toronto

    Detroit

     

    - F

    4

    3

  • Boston

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    7

    2

  • Tampa Bay

    NY Yankees

     

    - F

    4

    7

  • Pittsburgh

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    3

    6

  • Miami

    St. Louis

     

    - F

    0

    3

  • Houston

    Washington

     

    - F

    5

    1

  • Baltimore

    Toronto

     

    - F

    2

    1

  • Atlanta

    NY Mets

     

    - F

    2

    8

  • Cincinnati

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - Bot 7th

    3

    20

  • San Diego

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    9

    4

  • San Francisco

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - F

    3

    4

  • Seattle

    Cincinnati

     

    - Bot 8th

    7

    5

  • Oakland

    Milwaukee

     

    - Bot 8th

    11

    1

  • LA Dodgers

    Texas

     

    - F

    2

    3

  • Cleveland

    Arizona

     

    - Top 9th

    5

    5

  • Kansas City

    LA Angels

     

    - Bot 8th

    6

    7

  • Colorado

    San Diego

     

    - Bot 8th

    4

    1

No NFL games today

  • Brooklyn

    Atlanta

     

    - F

    107

    92

  • Phoenix

    Charlotte

     

    - F

    106

    120

  • Chicago

    Milwaukee

     

    - F

    109

    94

  • Oklahoma City

    Houston

     

    - F

    125

    137

  • Sacramento

    LA Clippers

     

    - F

    98

    97

  • Miami

    Boston

     

    - H

    58

    53

  • Philadelphia

    Indiana

     

    - H

    45

    51

  • Memphis

    Golden State

    7:00 PM

  • New Orleans

    Denver

    7:00 PM

    FSN

  • Portland

    LA Lakers

    8:30 PM

  • Minnesota

    Detroit

     

    - F

    2

    3

  • Dallas

    New Jersey

     

    - 3rd, 7:51

    0

    1

  • Philadelphia

    Pittsburgh

     

    - 1st, 17:12

    0

    0

  • Vancouver

    Winnipeg

    7:00 PM

  • NY Rangers

    Anaheim

    8:00 PM

No MLS games today