Gophers are in NIT to win NIT

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2014 - 7:26 AM

Disappointed but not surprised, they aim to make the most of their situation.

When Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino came to practice on Selection Sunday, he had a message for his players:

They probably wouldn’t be celebrating later when the NCAA announced its 68-team tournament field.

Following Friday’s loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament, the Gophers remained on the wrong side of the cut line in most projected brackets, and Pitino wanted to manage expectations.

Afterward, players had a meeting of their own.

“We just said whatever we’re in, we want to take advantage of it and try to win it,” senior Austin Hollins said.

As most expected, that will be the NIT. The Gophers, who received a No. 1 seed in the NIT for the first time, opening the consolation tournament against No. 8 seed High Point at Williams Arena on Tuesday.

When the initial disappointment wore off, the team moved on.

“I don’t think they’re the type of guys that have this sense of entitlement like they’re not going to be excited about playing,” Pitino said. “Nobody moped around.”

Heading into Sunday, Pitino said he thought his team had about a 40 percent chance of sneaking into the NCAA field. The Gophers finished the year with a strength of schedule ranked ninth in the nation and an RPI in the top 50.

That wasn’t enough for the NCAA tournament selection committee, which chose bubble teams Iowa and North Carolina State — each of which had a worse RPI and strength of schedule numbers than the Gophers.

The result might change how the program schedules in the future.

“We played a top-[10] schedule in the country, so maybe we don’t need to do that,” Pitino said. “Be a little bit smarter — there’s something to be said for that too, moving forward.”

Pitino also lamented the team’s quality victories, many of which lost their luster over time. Florida State was once a top-50 win. So was Iowa. But neither one was on Selection Sunday.

Still, Gophers coaches and players believe there is something to be gained from what lies ahead.

There are numerous examples of teams performing well in the NIT and then building on that success in the following seasons.

Undefeated and NCAA tournament No. 1 seed Wichita State won the NIT in 2011 and has been in the Big Dance every year since, last year advancing all the way to the Final Four. A year ago, Virginia was a top seed in the NIT; this season, the Cavaliers won the ACC regular-season and postseason titles and received an NCAA No. 1 seed as well.

In the NIT two years ago, the Gophers played all their games away from home, but they made it all the way to the title game in New York’s Madison Square Garden before getting run over by Stanford. One year later, they won an NCAA tournament game for the first time since 1997, although it wasn’t enough for Tubby Smith to keep his job as coach.

Monday, Pitino made it clear that he would not be experimenting for the sake of it in the coming weeks — “Like, I’m going to go win this tournament,” he said, an edge to his voice.

  • related content

  • Watching the Gophers' NIT game on the web

    Tuesday March 18, 2014

    The Gophers-High Point first-round game in the NIT will not be available on cable TV.It will be available on the...

  • NIT first round: Gophers-High Point game preview

    Tuesday March 18, 2014

    NIT FIRST ROUND, 7:15 P.M. VS. HIGH POINT • WILLIAMS ARENA • NO TV, 1500-AMGophers at a glance: The Gophers...

  • "We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves," Minnesota forward Joey King, left, said about playing in the NIT.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland 3 Top 8th Inning
LA Angels 3
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 4th Qtr 3:00
San Diego 12
Seattle 24 4th Qtr 11:22
Oakland 38
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 27 4th Qtr 13:16
Washington St 31
Weber State 6 3rd Qtr 7:35
(19) Arizona State 38
Temple 21 3rd Qtr 13:23
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pm
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question