The ol' Barn is squarely in the spotlight with a new athletic director primed to make a decision at some point about how long it should survive and when/where/if a practice facility figures into the mix.
Williams Arena is the center of attention, however, for a much more immediate reason: 6 p.m. tonight, Gophers vs. Badgers, on ESPN, in a game that Minnesota really needs to win. If you look at the Gophers' record (17-7, 5-6 in conference play) and remaining schedule, it gets far tougher to imagine an NCAA tournament berth with a loss to Bucky and far easier to imagine one with a "W."
Home games against Ohio State and Michigan State and the road rematch at Wisconsin will be very difficult. Add in toss-up games at home against Indiana and on the road at Northwestern, and you can see how important this game is. Minnesota needs to find three wins out of these next six games to put itself in shape to be 9-9 with a regular-season closing home victory against Nebraska. That record, which would obviously include quality victories down the stretch, would be enough -- in our eyes -- to make the Gophers an NCAA tourney-worthy team.
With that in mind, a pair of questions: Do you think the Gophers will beat Wisconsin tonight, and do you think they will put together enough of a stretch run to make the NCAA tournament after starting 0-4 in conference play?