When both Harvard and Vegas agree that your team has the best chance to win, things are looking pretty good, no?
I imagine there is a whole faction of Gophers fans out there that are shaking their heads and nervously muttering “No, no, no, no, no, NO!” -- because for certain, just when things have started to look good this season, the bottom has fallen out.
But this is tourney time, after all, the first REAL tourney time the Gophers (and Gophers fans) have had to enjoy since 2010. So try and enjoy it a little, OK? Go ahead, hope and dream about the Sweet Sixteen. The experts say it’s possible, and frankly with this team, you never really know.
There’s only one more afternoon before things really ramp up and about 36 hours before the Gophers play, so soak it in.
To assist in your soaking, I have compiled some interesting and relevant links for your viewing, below:
*First and foremost, my bracket. You’re welcome. Although maybe I shouldn’t be so snobby considering I am already 2-for-4 in the First Four. So use this information at your own risk.
*What is this? The Gophers one of only two lower seeds that are favored in Vegas? In case you haven’t already bookmarked this and sent it to all of your friends, here you go.
*And who else likes the Gophers? Well Harvard does. Harvard likes them to the tune of giving them a 69.9 percent chance of beating UCLA. But what do they know? They’re only the alma mater of 75 Nobel Laureates, eight U.S. presidents and 62 billionaires. Not a big deal.
*Oh, and Nate Silver. Didn’t go to Harvard, but still a pretty smart dude. He likes the Gophers to win against UCLA and gives them a 13.9 percent chance of making the Sweet Sixteen. But before you get too carried away he gives them just a 0.2 percent chance to win the whole thing. So you’re saying there’s a chance …
*This nifty graphic gives you all kinds of percentages for teams advancing. How far can you reasonably root for the Gophers to go? Need a reality check? Click away.
*All kinds of tourney tidbits here from ESPN, including a very relevant stat about the Gophers and free-throw shooting.
*Just a well-written piece on the Big Ten – and how the ultimate test and vindicator is still NCAA tournament performance – by ESPN’s Eammon Brennan.
*TV guides/times etc. here so you guys don’t have to keep bugging me on Twitter for that stuff. K? Thanks.
*Who are the first two coaches listed on the hot seat? Take a wild guess. They may or may not be facing off in the last game of the first round on Friday. But no other hints.
*More on Ben Howland's rocky future here. Oh no, did I give the above link away?
Everything you need to know about the South Region, where the Gophers play, here.
*ESPN's Giant Killers blog says it's never seen the model come out with such high probability for a potential upset. They're not even mad -- they're impressed. Who do you think it is? I'll give you three guesses.
*Maybe the Gophers aren’t ranked in the AP poll anymore, but they are still pret-tay high up on this Forbes most valuable college basketball program list. This might not sit well with those who are already flustered and flabbergasted over the lack of facilities at Minnsota. And I have to admit, I’m a little confused as well.
*This is just fun. The field of 68 ranked in order of the coolest person that went there. NC State must have misplaced my transcript.
*Just to balance out your buzz: Dan Hanner measures team’s hotness coming into the tourney. Yes, keep scrolling, you’ll find the Gophers eventually.
More from Star Tribune
More from Gold in the Barn
One day after Richard Pitino declared that he did a "horrible job" with the game plan for Northwestern in last month's game, the Gophers looked even less prepared in a 24-point loss.
An offense that often gets stagnant and relies far too heavily on three-pointers suddenly was on the attack, getting out in transition and taking the ball to the hoop forcefully and effectively.
A defensive lapse at the end of the loss to Indiana might have cost Minnesota the game, but coach Richard Pitino sees hints that leadership is growing among the youthful ranks.
The Jan. 9 rout was the first of two 25-point losses that preceded the recent improved play of the Gophers, who are still winless in the Big Ten. The rematch is Thursday.
Minnesota leads the Big Ten in free-throw attempts, but is making just 69.8 percent of them.