Sub-.500 conference record not a good sign for Gophers basketball

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 1, 2014 - 12:54 AM

The NCAA selection committee often isn’t kind to teams with losing records in conference play.

In a conference as strong as the Big Ten, opportunities abound.

A basketball team can struggle through six losses in eight games, such as the Gophers men have this season, and still have the chance to play itself back onto the bubble.

And that’s where the Gophers (7-9) find themselves heading into Saturday’s game at No. 16 Michigan, the second-to-last contest of the regular season. After a bevy of borderline losses — at Nebraska, to Northwestern, at Purdue, to Illinois — the Gophers rebounded to put themselves back in the NCAA tournament conversation after a 95-89 victory over No. 20 Iowa on Tuesday.

“We’ve got nine losses in conference, and everyone says we’ve got a very good chance to go to the NCAA tournament,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “Well, the reason why is strength of schedule. And it’s not going to go down, obviously, in this conference.”

Saturday will be the Gophers’ third consecutive game against a ranked opponent — stretches that seem almost inevitable in the Big Ten.

A victory would give the Gophers a chance to go 9-9, essentially making them a lock for an NCAA bid.

But a loss at Crisler Arena would appear to leave the Gophers at the mercy of a selection committee that historically speaking has not rewarded teams in similar situations.

Though the Gophers received an NCAA invitation despite an 8-10 conference record a year ago, a look through history says that such a scenario is the exception, not the rule. Being below .500 in the league schedule has shown to be a very tenuous spot indeed.

Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, 26 Big Ten teams have finished the regular season with records of either 8-10 or 7-9 (the conference played 16 games from 1997-98 through 2006-07). Only eight of them advanced to the NCAA tournament.

However, this will be the fourth year of a 68-team NCAA tournament field, with 37 at-large invitations (there were only 34 in 2010). can


These Gophers can help their cause in the Big Ten tournament, which gives teams with disappointing conference records a shot to play themselves into the NCAAs. It hasn’t happened often; since the conference tournament began in 1998, 15 teams have finished the regular season two games below .500 in conference play, and only six of those teams have advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Iowa won the 2001 Big Ten tournament to earn an automatic entry. Three others won at least one game: in 2001, Penn State won two games to advance to the Big Ten semifinals; Iowa did the same in 2005; and last year, Illinois beat the Gophers on a buzzer-beater in the first round to slide in.

That leaves two conference teams since 1998 that have reached the NCAA postseason with either an 8-10 or 7-9 record without winning at least one game in the Big Ten tournament — but the Gophers were one of those teams last year. Before the Big Ten tournament’s introduction, only two of 11 teams received an NCAA bid.

Gophers coach Richard Pitino has firmly said all season that the team does not discuss the NCAA tournament.

But it’s tough to argue that no one knows just how critical these next three games are.

Winning in Ann Arbor will not be easy. Michigan sits alone atop the standings and boasts the nation’s third-ranked offense, to say nothing of the incredibly talented individuals on the roster, including Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.

Even if the Gophers were to win at Michigan — which has lost only four times at home in the last three seasons — and lose at home to Penn State, they could potentially be the only team since 1985 to slide into the NCAA tournament with consecutive 8-10 records, based on the strength of their victories.

“We have one thing on our mind right now and that’s going to Michigan and pulling out a big win,” point guard DeAndre Mathieu said. “Hopefully that will put us over the hump we need to get in to the tournament.”

  • related content

  • Gameday preview: Gophers basketball at Michigan

    Friday February 28, 2014

    gophers gameday5 P.M. AT NO. 16 MICHIGAN •CRISLER ARENA • BTN, 1500-AMGophers at a glance: After losing six of eight,...

  • Big Ten releases 2014-15 basketball opponents

    Friday February 28, 2014

    This basketball season is far from over, but next season, with its significant conference changes, is already on the horizon.The...

  • Michigan's Nik Stauskas, right, attempts a shot and is fouled by Minnesota's Austin Hollins during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • gophers at No. 16 michigan

    5 p.m. today • TV: BTN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Utah 6:00 PM
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Washington 6:30 PM
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Toronto 6:30 PM
Chicago 7:00 PM
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Boston 7:00 PM
Dallas 8:00 PM
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 41 2nd Half 5:57
Tulane 47
Siena 5:00 PM
Stillman 6:00 PM
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Niagara 6:00 PM
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
Milligan 7:00 PM
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Louisiana 1:00 PM
Alcorn State
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Denver 47 2nd Half 6:53
Wright State 62
Blue Mountain 16 2nd Half
Central Arkansas 37
Texas State 16 1st Half 7:14
Bethune-Cookman 8
Albany 3:00 PM
TX-San Antonio 3:00 PM
Yale 3:30 PM
Northern Colorado 3:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Belmont 4:00 PM
Massachusetts 4:00 PM
Georgia State
George Mason 4:05 PM
Portland State 4:30 PM
UCLA 5:00 PM
Mobile 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
McNeese State 6:00 PM
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Longwood 6:00 PM
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon




question of the day

Poll: How much do you like the Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl?

Weekly Question