Read my full story on Minnesota's 90-71 loss at Indiana here.
Three quick observations before I go seek out some mind-erasing whiskey:
There were a few threes tonight, in case you didn't notice. Not very many of them came from the Gophers camp. But enough (18) came from the Indiana camp that a team with a long storied past of hitting the three ball set a new school record. It was a brutal dismantling of whatever defense Minnesota happened to be set up in. Freshman James Blackmon Jr. seemed to have a knack for hitting the gut-punch -- a shot to end every Gophers feel-good moment or small run. And even Troy Williams, who had hit one three-pointer all year, joined in the fun, tripling his season total. Some of that was just the product of a very good shooting team, a very good offensive team. And some of that was Minnesota not closing out on guys and not rotating quickly enough in the zone. It was by far the worst we've seen from the zone in about 5 games.
Rebounding, rearing its ugly head. Speaking of the zone, Minnesota has always struggled to contend on the boards out of it. It didn't help that Indiana was getting so many long rebounds with all the long balls. But the fact that Joey King and Mo Walker combined as the starting frontcourt for one single rebound is just concerning. The Gophers have a size advantage on very few teams, but this is one of them, yet they were nearly doubled in effort by the Hoosiers. Interestingly, the one guy who did OK was Charles Buggs, in his second consecutive start, who used his athleticism to leap in and grab five off the glass.
Just in case your mind had drifted to the Big Dance... This should be enough to snap you to your senses. It was going to be very hard for Minnesota -- which has put together a much inferior RPI and strength of schedule compared with last year -- to get an NCAA tournament bid no matter what. The Gophers don't have any ranked wins and they were going to have to go through Wisconsin to get one in the regular season. But in any case, a loss tonight probably slams that door shut. The Iowa win was a nice one (although it looks less so after the Hawkeyes were knocked off at a Northwestern team that was on a ten-game losing streak) and following it up with another road win here would have been nicer. Never fear, the Gophers have almost surely played themselves into the NIT, which they OWN.