Gophers hope to make positive impression on selection committee

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 12, 2013 - 7:50 AM

They haven’t helped their cause in their past two losses, and hope beating Illinois in Chicago can help that.

hide

Austin Hollins dunked the ball in the last seconds of the game at Williams Arena, one of the season's high points.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Ask Tubby Smith about his team’s spot in the NCAA tournament, and his response is less than 100 percent confident.


The Gophers coach, while leading his squad to 11 victories over top-100 RPI teams (three in the top 20), knows he and his limping squad also have given the selection committee plenty of negatives to ponder.

So with a final chance to gain some positivity as they barrel toward Selection Sunday — the No. 9-seeded Gophers face 
No. 8-seeded Illinois in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament in Chicago on Thursday — Smith wants to make a statement.

“I think we’ve got to be fighting for it all the time,” he said. “There’s a lot of [areas where] we’re suspect. Our full body of work is probably as good as anybody else’s around, so we’re at least in the top 20 or 30 I would think as far as RPI and things like that and the good wins, the quality of wins that we’ve had. But again, they look at what you’ve done lately too, and so that’s where we’ve got to step up in this tournament.”

CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm said over text that he doesn’t think the Gophers can fall out of the NCAA field even if they lose to Illinois. Most likely, he said, they’ll end up as a No. 8 or No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament as well, but depending on what they do and other teams do it’s possible they could rise as high as a No. 6 or drop to as low as a No. 11.

But even if the Gophers are just fighting for better positioning, historically speaking, they’ve succeeded in neutral settings.

The bulk of this Minnesota team — sans just Trevor Mbakwe and Wally Ellenson — was also part of the team that plowed through the NIT tournament last season after a disappointing regular season. They won two of three in last year’s Old Spice Classic in Orlando, and notched victories in the Bahamas against then-No. 19 Memphis and Stanford. Three of the starting five — Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Austin Hollins — were part of the team that beat then-No. 8 North Carolina in Puerto Rico.

The games will be held at United Center, a place where Illinois typically plays a game every season. There’s also a chance that more Illini fans — based on proximity — will be in attendance. Still, the tournament will offer a more sterile and balanced atmosphere than any away court.

Part of Minnesota’s success in those situations is due to the same issue that has also plagued the Gophers this season: their proclivity to overthink and get wrapped up in the details, Smith said.

“I think a lot of it has to do with how you just play,” Smith said of tournament situations. “There’s not a lot of preparation time, you just go in and play. There’s not a whole lot of thinking, or a whole lot of game preparation, and that may be better suited for us, to be honest with you.”

Notes
• Andre Ingram tweaked an ankle in Saturday’s 89-73 loss at Purdue, but is “fine” now, Smith said.

• Julian Welch didn’t play Saturday because of a lingering illness, Smith said. “He was very weak. I didn’t think he would be very effective, to be honest with you,” Smith said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 4 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Minnesota 2
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Washington 1
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 4
NY Yankees 10 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
Tampa Bay 0 Cancelled
Baltimore 0
Detroit 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Chicago WSox 3 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 6
Texas 6 FINAL
Oakland 7
Cleveland 2 FINAL
Arizona 3
Arizona 7 FINAL
LA Angels 2
Miami 0 Cancelled
Houston 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 5
San Francisco 8 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
San Diego 7
Milwaukee 8 FINAL
Cincinnati 6
Detroit 111 FINAL
Orlando 97
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Philadelphia 98
Charlotte 107 FINAL
Washington 110
Boston 96 FINAL
New York 92
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Brooklyn 106
LA Lakers 83 FINAL
Toronto 94
Miami 86 FINAL
Atlanta 99
Golden State 107 FINAL
Memphis 84
Sacramento 88 FINAL
New Orleans 102
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Houston 120
Dallas 76 FINAL
San Antonio 94
Utah 91 FINAL
Denver 107
Portland 87 FINAL
Phoenix 81
Calgary 2 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 5 FINAL
Chicago 2
Dallas 0 FINAL
Edmonton 4
UCLA 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 74
NC State 65 FINAL
Louisville 75
Utah 57 FINAL
Duke 63
Kent State 73 FINAL
Northern Ariz 74
Michigan State 62 FINAL
Oklahoma 58
(15) North Carolina 65 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 67
(18) Iowa 66 FINAL
(5) Baylor 81
(9) Arizona State 65 FINAL
(7) Florida State 66
(14) Stanford 60 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 81
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite team in the NCAA men's hockey tournament?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close