Gold in the Barn Logo

Blog

Gold in the Barn

Get the latest inside information on Gophers basketball

Gophers shut out of Top 25? 'I don't care,' Pitino says

When the top 25 polls were released Monday and the Gophers men's basketball team found itself on the outside despite a seven-game winning streak, many fans were furious.

Minnesota coach Richard Pitino didn't agree with his team being snubbed my some voters, but it doesn't really bother him. 

"Fans get outraged over not being ranked," Pitino said on his radio show. "When you win seven in a row in the Big Ten, you should be ranked. The biggest thing with me is I don’t care about the rankings. I’ve said it from Day 1. They’re totally unimportant."

Essentially, Pitino is right. The Gophers are 22-7 and 10-6 in the Big Ten. Their NCAA tournament resume is about as good as anyone in the Big Ten. They have a Rating Percentage Index ranking at No. 16 and a Strength of Schedule ranking at No.15. They are rated No. 30 by advanced stats guru Ken Pomeroy.

Everything points to Minnesota being seeded as high as No. 5 in the Big Dance right now. And it could be even higher if the Gophers keep winning.

So why does it matter if they’re not ranked? It’s not like being in the top 25 for the first time in four years helped the Gophers before when they got ranked at No. 24 on Jan. 9. Two days later, Pitino’s team got embarrassed 65-47 at Michigan State, which started the five-game losing streak.

“What I care about is RPI, strength of schedule,” Pitino said. “There are six things the (NCAA tournament selection committee) looks at and they’re not coaches’ poll and (Associated Press poll). So those things aren’t important.”

The Gophers received 66 points in the AP poll on Monday, basically putting them at the No. 26 slot just outside the rankings (I voted them No. 25 by the way). But the USA Today coaches poll really showed disrespect (likely taking a shot at the Big Ten) by only giving Minnesota 10 points. That was behind Creighton (44 points), South Carolina (25), Southern Cal (21), Middle Tennessee State (20), Oklahoma State (16) and Dayton (15). The latter two are on the bubble.

Pitino seems to think most coaches probably don’t take their top 25 vote seriously.

“People have got to realize that the coach’s poll, coaches only pay attention to their team and whoever they may play,” he said. “So you don’t know who’s voting. It could be a school out in California and they don’t really care. Half the time they have their (director of basketball operations) guy do it.”

PLAYING LOUISVILLE?: Richard Pitino is 0-1 against his father, Rick Pitino. And it doesn’t seem like he wants the Gophers to play Louisville again anytime soon. He was asked on his radio show about the possibility of the Pitino family rematch in the NCAA tournament this year. They will be the first father-and-son to coach teams in the tournament in the same year.

Pitino said his wife even asked him recently if they could play each other -- and he hoped not.

“You shouldn’t do that,” Pitino said. “They do like the storylines, but I hope they stay away from that. But at the end of the day, it’s great we’re talking about NCAA tournament seeds from where we were a year ago.”

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Minnesota and Louisville in the Midwest Region both opening the tournament in Indianapolis. But he projects the Gophers as a No. 7 seed playing No. 10 seed Virginia Tech with a possible second round matchup with No. 2 Kentucky. And Lunardi has the Cardinals seeded No. 2 with a potential second round matchup with the winner of No. 7 Iowa State and No. 10 Middle Tennessee.

Personally, I think if the selection committee decides to have the Pitinos in the same location to open the tournament that would be a missed opportunity for them not to have Minnesota and Louisville potentially meet in the second round. But you never know what will happen.   

“That would be the lamest thing ever if they do that,” Pitino said. “I don’t think they’ll do it.”

With help, Pitino's Gophers have outside shot at Big Ten title

It might sound crazy after what happened last season, but the Gophers men's basketball team has a chance to share the Big Ten regular-season title. 

After Saturday's 81-71 win against Penn State, Minnesota (22-7, 10-6) picked up its seventh straight victory to put itself at third place in the Big Ten standings. 

Maryland lost its third straight game Saturday against Iowa to fall to 10-6. But the Gophers earn the tiebreaker over the Terrapins, because they defeated the top team in the conference in Purdue.

Big Ten men's basketball standings

So what has to happen for Richard Pitino to capture the U’s first Big Ten title officially since 1982?

Basically, Minnesota has to win the last two games to finish 12-6. And Purdue and Wisconsin need to end with that same conference record. That means the Boilermakers (currently 12-4) need to lose the last two games. And the Badgers (11-4) need to lose at least two of the last three.  

On Sunday, Michigan State did the Gophers a huge favor by upsetting Wisconsin. Minnesota needs to beat Nebraska on Thursday and Wisconsin in the regular season finale Sunday. Purdue also needs to lose to both Indiana and Northwestern.

If the Gophers want the overall No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament, then both Purdue and Wisconsin would have to lose the rest of their games. Michigan State would have to lose to either Illinois Wednesday or Maryland Sunday.

And Minnesota has to win out, of course.

Everybody get that? I know it’s confusing, so Pitino and his players should only worry about what they can control and see how it all plays out with other teams.

Regardless, if Minnesota just wins one of the last two games it would likely be a top-four seed in the conference tournament to receive a double-bye in Washington D.C. That’s the goal right now.

BLOCK PARTY: Gophers center Reggie Lynch was on pace to tie Mychal Thompson’s 41-year-old school and Big Ten record for blocks in a game when he had six at halftime Saturday. His 11 blocks were the second most in team and Big Ten history, surpassing former NBA player Joel Przybilla’s 10 blocks vs. Fresno State in 1998.

Lynch already broke Randy Breuer’s school single-season record in the first half, so it seemed like this was the day when he was going to either reach or shatter the record of 12 blocks in a game.

With about 3 1/2 minutes left, Lynch appeared to block Payton Banks' shot out of bounds. It was very close. That ended up being a deflection, instead of his 10th block.

Lynch then got his 10th block with 1:26 left on a layup attempt by Tony Carr. Plenty of time left to get a couple more, considering he got consecutive blocks on one possession twice in the first half.

But the last block came with 33 seconds remaining – and that was it. Incredible defensive performance, but that was surprising he fell just short of the record.

Something tells me he might just get 12 or more blocks in a game before his career is over.

“Honestly, the zero fouls is more impressive,” Lynch said with a smile. “I know I can get 11 blocks. It’s just whether they want to tally it up.”

Should Lynch be a shoe-in for Big Ten defensive player of the year? Well, Purdue’s A.J. Hammons won the honor last season, leading the conference with 2.6 blocks per game and 84 total. Lynch is leading the Big Ten with 3.4 blocks per game and 95 total.

The Big Ten single-season record is held by former Ohio State center Ken Johnson with 161 in 1999-2000. Lynch could possibly finish in the top-five in conference history with at least four more games.

The Gophers saw another blocks record fall Saturday. They now have the team single-season mark with 202, eclipsing the 200 recorded in 2008-09. 

MURPHY MILESTONE: Sophomore Jordan Murphy became the fastest Gopher to reach 500 rebounds in his first two seasons. Murphy had 16 points and 16 rebounds for his 10th double-double this season and fifth in the last six games.

Murphy is averaging 17.2 points, 14 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the last six games. Those are definitely All-Big Ten numbers right there.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Pittsburgh at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Utah

    8 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Twins at Baltimore (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Gophers women's basketball vs. Penn State

    5:30 pm on BTN

  • Wild at Columbus

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Nebraska at Gophers men's basketball

    6 pm on ESPN, 1500-AM

  • Twins at Philadelphia (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan

    5:30 pm on ESPNEWS, 1500-AM

  • Minnesota United FC at Portland

    8:30 pm on FS1

  • Toronto at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Gophers women's hockey vs. UMD

    5:07 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan

    7:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Twins at Washington (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Gophers men's basketball at Wisconsin

    5 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • St. Louis at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN

Poll: What should happen next with Adrian Peterson and the Vikings?

See more polls

Today's Scoreboard

  • Boston

    Baltimore

     

    - F

    5

    12

  • Washington

    Detroit

     

    - F

    9

    1

  • Miami

    Houston

     

    - F

    9

    5

  • Pittsburgh

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    3

    1

  • NY Mets

    St. Louis

     

    - F

    1

    6

  • Philadelphia

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    5

    5

  • Detroit

    Toronto

     

    - F

    5

    4

  • Arizona

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - Bot 3rd

    2

    0

  • Seattle

    Cleveland

     

    - Bot 4th

    0

    1

  • Chicago Cubs

    Kansas City

     

    - Bot 5th

    2

    1

  • Cincinnati

    Milwaukee

     

    - Top 5th

    2

    2

  • San Diego

    Colorado

     

    - Bot 4th

    1

    3

  • Texas

    LA Angels

     

    - Bot 4th

    0

    1

  • Oakland

    San Diego

     

    - Bot 5th

    0

    2

  • Atlanta

    NY Yankees

    5:35 PM

  • LA Dodgers

    San Francisco

    7:05 PM

No NFL games today

  • New York

    Orlando

    6:00 PM

  • Dallas

    Atlanta

    6:30 PM

  • Philadelphia

    Miami

    6:30 PM

  • Washington

    Toronto

    6:30 PM

  • Cleveland

    Boston

    7:00 PM

    ESPN

  • Denver

    Milwaukee

    7:00 PM

  • Detroit

    New Orleans

    7:00 PM

    FSN

  • Indiana

    San Antonio

    7:30 PM

  • Minnesota

    Utah

    8:00 PM

  • Brooklyn

    Sacramento

    9:30 PM

  • Houston

    LA Clippers

    9:30 PM

    ESPN

  • Carolina

    Tampa Bay

    6:00 PM

  • Pittsburgh

    Chicago

    7:00 PM

    NBC Sports

No MLS games today