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They ate, they laughed and they yelled at the giant TV, imploring the U.S. women’s hockey team – which includes five current or former Gophers – to defeat rival Canada in the gold medal game.
In the end, though, they felt the sting that so many felt when Canada scored twice in the final four minutes of regulation and won 3-2 on a power play goal in overtime. Only they felt it even more than most.
“That makes me so sad,” junior forward Rachael Bona said, as she watched tears streaming down the cheeks of the U.S. players on TV. A few Gophers players, thousands of miles away from the action, shed a few tears in their team lounge as well.
Best Kiss Cam ever? Best Kiss Cam ever.
It's Monday, and the latest "Bracketology" report is out at ESPN.com for both men's and women's basketball.
If you cheer for the Gophers, it's a good day -- though one that underscores plenty of work remains.
The men's squad, which has consistently shown up in the field of 68 for several weeks, is currently projected as a No. 10 seed after critical victory Sunday at Northwestern.
The women's squad, which has been on the outside looking in, moved into the projected NCAA tourney field this week after big road victories at Wisconsin and Northwestern. The Gophers are slated as a No. 11 seed.
The Gophers men are projected as one of the last four teams to get byes, while the Gophers women are tabbed as one of the "last four in" right now.
That means there will be plenty of big games ahead for both teams to keep them in the NCAA picture.
The men's squad, which is 6-7 in the Big Ten and plays an 18-game regular-season schedule, has must-win games at home against Illinois (Wednesday) and to close the season against Penn State. In between, they have a home game against Iowa and road games against Michigan and Ohio State. Three more wins in the regular season would wrap up a bid, in our mind. Two wins and a win in the Big Ten tourney could very well get it done, too. Two regular-season wins and a one-and-done in the conference tourney? Well, that would be the same record and route last year's Gophers took to squeeze into the field, but we wouldn't recommend trying it again.
The women's squad, which is 6-6 in the conference and plays a 16-game regular-season schedule, is home against Purdue, at Michigan State, home against Indiana and home against Ohio State. Two wins out of the four would likely get get them in -- particularly if one of the wins was over Indiana, which currently sits on the bubble as one of the "first four teams out." That could very well be an NCAA tournament swing game at Williams Arena on Feb. 27.
For the men, making the tourney would be a significant accomplishment based on preseason expectations for Richard Pitino's first year.
For the women, it would be their first berth since 2009.
The Hunt Down
Name: Arland Bruce
I’m Too Lazy to Click a Simple Link, Give Me the Gist: he’s been a CFL mainstay since 2003; he once changed his name to Runako Reth; and he has paid tribute to both Spiderman and Michael Jackson while celebrating “touchdowns,” as they’re known in Canada.
Why Are We Bringing Him Up Now, Again: most of the people who’ve been tepid on Missouri defensive end Michael Sam’s post-coming out NFL prospects have chosen to do so anonymously. Not Arland Bruce! He put his name to an Instagram post (language nowhere near SFW) where he asked Sam if was afraid of touching women in various delicate areas on their persons and then misspelled the word “gay” while demanding that Sam “submit to God fully.”
Has He Issued a Statement Deeply and Sincerely Apologizing For These Remarks: yes.
Where Is He Now: As of this writing, still employed by the Montreal Alouettes.
Is He on Twitter: it appears so. The account is, perhaps wisely, protected.
Has He Ever Been in a Twitter Feud with Patrick Reusse: no.
For the last six years, Twin Cities residents were a short drive away from watching Tubby Smith patrol the sidelines of college basketball games.
Smith, of course, was fired as Gophers coach after last season and replaced by Richard Pitino. Tubby then took a new job at Texas Tech, which means that if you want to see Tubby coach now, it takes a much longer drive.
But he'll be as close as he gets on Saturday when Texas Tech travels to Ames -- just a few hours south of Minneapolis -- to take on Iowa State.
He has a staff you might find familiar: Assistant coach Vince Taylor, assistant coach Joe Esposito, assistant director of basketball ops Zo Goodson and video coordinator Saul Smith were all on his Minnesota staff, albeit some in different capacities.
And the game in Ames comes at a time when the Red Raiders are playing as well as they have all season.
They started the conference season 2-6, and things looked pretty well lost. They then squeaked out a six-point home win over TCU, winless in the Big 12, which still didn't inspire much confidence.
But the next two victories -- at home against Oklahoma State, better known as the game in which Marcus Smart shoved a fan, and then at Oklahoma -- were certainly more impressive and have Tech sitting at 13-11 overall and 5-6 in the strong Big 12.
That said, Texas Tech's schedule is about to turn ultra-brutal. The Red Raiders' final seven games, starting with that Saturday game at Iowa State:
02/15/14 at Iowa State
02/18/14 vs. Kansas
02/22/14 at Oklahoma State
02/25/14 vs. Kansas State
03/01/14 at Baylor
03/05/14 at Kansas
03/08/14 vs. Texas
Six of those games are against RPI top-40 opponents, while Baylor is in the top 60. Tubby's crew might be fortunate to carve two victories out of that stretch, which would leave them under .500 heading into the Big 12 tourney.
That said, this year is already a marked improvement over last season, when Texas Tech went 11-20 and 3-15 in the conference. If you want to go from bad to decent, Tubby is still your guy.
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