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Postgame: Gophers still have a shot to share the 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.

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.  

It starts with Sunday’s games. Michigan State would do Minnesota a huge favor by upsetting Wisconsin. Then next week, 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.

Gophers' Reggie Lynch breaks the single-season blocks record Saturday

All Reggie Lynch needed was one half to set the University of Minnesota's single-season blocks record Saturday against Penn State. 

Lynch, a 6-foot-10 junior from Edina, recorded six blocks in the first half to get to 90 this season, which broke Randy Breuer's record of 89 set back in 1981-82. He entered the game as the Big Ten's top shot blocker and fourth in the nation (3.1). 

It was the seventh game this season where Lynch had five blocks or more, which included a career-high nine blocks in a Nov. 18 win against St. John's.

Lynch sat out last season after transferring from Illinois State. In two seasons with the Redbirds, he finished No. 2 on the school's all-time blocks list with 189.  

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Gophers women's basketball at Maryland

    11 am on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Minnesota United FC vs. San Antonio

    11:30 am

  • Washington at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Bemidji State at Gophers women's hockey

    4:07 pm

  • Miami at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Los Angeles at Wild

    7 pm on NBCSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Sacramento

    9:30 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Tampa Bay at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Wild at Winnipeg

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • 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

  • Wild at Columbus

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • 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 men's hockey at Michigan

    7:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Twins at Washington (spring training)

    12:05 pm

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Today's Scoreboard

  • Houston

    Atlanta

     

    - F

    3

    2

  • Pittsburgh

    Baltimore

     

    - F

    3

    8

  • Washington

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    2

    5

  • Toronto

    NY Yankees

     

    - F

    2

    7

  • Miami

    St. Louis

     

    - F

    4

    7

  • Boston

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    3

    7

  • Philadelphia

    Toronto

     

    - F

    10

    3

  • Detroit

    NY Mets

     

    - F

    2

    5

  • Cleveland

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    1

    1

  • Colorado

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - F

    3

    7

  • San Francisco

    Cincinnati

     

    - F

    9

    5

  • Texas

    Kansas City

     

    - F

    6

    4

  • LA Dodgers

    Milwaukee

     

    - F

    10

    8

  • LA Angels

    Oakland

     

    - F

    5

    3

  • Arizona

    Colorado

     

    - F

    1

    6

  • San Diego

    Seattle

     

    - F

    2

    13

No NFL games today

  • Phoenix

    Milwaukee

     

    - F

    96

    100

  • San Antonio

    LA Lakers

     

    - F

    119

    98

  • Memphis

    Denver

     

    - 4th, 0:55

    100

    90

  • Utah

    Washington

     

    - 4th, 1:37

    98

    89

  • Boston

    Detroit

     

    - H

    54

    50

  • Portland

    Toronto

     

    - H

    52

    53

  • New Orleans

    Oklahoma City

     

    - 1st, 7:02

    14

    10

  • Charlotte

    LA Clippers

    8:30 PM

    NBA

  • Boston

    Dallas

     

    - F

    6

    3

  • Calgary

    Carolina

     

    - F

    3

    1

  • Edmonton

    Nashville

     

    - 3rd, 18:07

    4

    5

  • Columbus

    NY Rangers

     

    - 3rd, 12:32

    4

    1

  • St. Louis

    Chicago

    6:30 PM

    NBC Sports

  • Ottawa

    Florida

    6:30 PM

  • Buffalo

    Arizona

    7:30 PM

No MLS games today