This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

What will it take for the Gophers to make the tournament?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: January 15, 2014 - 11:33 AM

Looking at the Gophers non-conference schedule, and the Big Ten this year, Minnesota probably needs at least nine wins to make the NCAA tournament, and a few signature wins would really help.

Last year, if you’ll remember, Minnesota had wins over five ranked teams: Memphis, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin and then top-ranked Indiana. Slipping into the Big Dance with eight conference wins made since – half of them were against teams in the national top 25!

This year, it’s a bit of a different story. Four games into the league slate, the Gophers don’t have any victories against ranked opponents (at this time last year, they’d already collected three). Although taking a team like No. 5 Michigan State to overtime at Breslin Center is nice, it will be quickly glossed over in March.

However, the Gophers have three more very good opportunities to clinch their first signature win in the next week, with the upcoming schedule looking pretty meaty:

Thurs: vs. Ohio State

Sunday: at Iowa

1-2: vs. Wisconsin

To get to nine wins, the Gophers will need at least one of those, and then can afford to win no fewer than six games (of 11) the rest of the way. Here’s what the rest looks like:

1-22: at Nebraska

2-1: vs. Northwestern

2-5: at Purdue

2-8: vs. Indiana

2-13: at Wisconsin

2-16: at Northwestern

2-19: vs. Illinois

2-22: at Ohio State

2-25: vs. Iowa

3-1: at Michigan

3-8: vs. Penn State

As you can see, five home games remain in that stretch. If the Gophers were to win, say, four of them, they would need to grab two road wins. At Northwestern and at Purdue are both winnable, but not very impressive. That scenario would put the Gophers at 9-9 with probably one or two ranked wins. And it’s certainly possible the cards could fall that way.

Would it be enough to push Minnesota into the NCAA tournament? Probably, but the Gophers wouldn’t be too far off the bubble.

Without a win in the next three games, the prospects become infinitely tougher. The Gophers would need to win all of their home games, and also two road games. And, unless the Big Ten adds a few new ranked teams (which is possible), they’d be reliant on snagging a signature win from one of three games: at Wisconsin (yikes), at Ohio State (yikes again) or against Iowa at home. It turns the pressure up significantly.


Cleveland - LP: T. House 1 FINAL
Detroit - WP: A. Simon 4
Chicago Cubs 0 Postponed
Cincinnati 0
Kansas City 0 Postponed
Chicago WSox 0
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 9 FINAL
Oakland - LP: K. Graveman 3
NY Mets - WP: M. Harvey 8 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Sabathia 2
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 0 FINAL
Miami - WP: T. Koehler 8
Toronto - LP: B. Cecil 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: E. Frieri 4
Atlanta - WP: S. Miller 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 2
Boston - LP: K. Uehara 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Matusz 5
St. Louis - WP: M. Belisle 5 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 3
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 1
San Francisco 4 Top 10th Inning
Colorado 4
Los Angeles 10 Top 8th Inning
San Diego 7
Texas 1 Top 7th Inning
LA Angels 3
Minnesota 6 Top 7th Inning
Seattle 3
Atlanta 83 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Chicago 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 92
Golden State 109 FINAL
New Orleans 98
Memphis 38 2nd Qtr 7:31
Portland 28
Washington 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Detroit 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay 0
Nashville 3 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 4 3rd Prd 8:49
Calgary 4
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Columbus 4
Real Salt Lake 0 FINAL
New England 4
Sporting Kansas City 4 FINAL
Houston 4
D.C. 1 2nd Half
Vancouver FC 1
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