The Gophers men’s basketball team can lock up a runner-up finish in the Big Ten and the No. 2 seed in next week’s conference tournament with a victory Sunday at Wisconsin.
Purdue clinched the outright Big Ten regular-season title Thursday night when Wisconsin lost. The Boilermakers are the top seed in the tournament in Washington, D.C. But after that, nothing is settled.
The Gophers’ eight-game win streak gives them a shot at a top-four Big Ten tournament seed — which comes with a double-bye — whether they win or lose Sunday. The worst-case scenario for the Gophers is that they are the No. 5 seed and open Thursday against either the No. 12 or 13 seed. The best case: They get the No. 2 seed and don’t have to play until Friday. A breakdown:
Gophers are the No. 2 seed if: They win at Wisconsin for the first time since 2009. They would finish 12-6 and win a potential tiebreaker over Maryland (if the Terrapins win Saturday) because of their victory over Purdue.
Gophers are the No. 4 seed if: They lose at Wisconsin and Maryland beats Michigan State.
Gophers are the No. 5 seed if: They lose at Wisconsin and Michigan State beats Maryland. In a three-way tie at 11-7, the Spartans own the tiebreaker over the Gophers (having swept them) and Maryland owns multiple tiebreakers over Gophers.
COY: Pitino Sr., only
There’s a Pitino on the list of 10 semifinalists for the national coach of the year award, but it’s not the one in maroon and gold. Rick Pitino of Louisville and nine others, including Northwestern’s Chris Collins, were named semifinalists Friday for the Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year Award.
Rick Pitino has guided No. 7 Louisville to a 23-7 mark. His son Richard has guided the Gophers to an identical record, this after an 8-23 record last season.
The other eight finalists: Scott Drew (Baylor), Mark Few (Gonzaga), Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Tim Jankovich (SMU), Sean Miller (Arizona), Bill Self (Kansas), Mike White (Florida) and Jay Wright (Villanova). Four finalists will be announced on March 16 and the winner April 2.
Pitino and Collins are favorites to win the Big Ten Coach of the Year award, announced Monday.