Minnesota's NCAA tourney hopes are hardly rock-solid, but a quick check of ESPN and CBS shows them in the field and not even among the "last four in."

The Gophers have two daunting regular-season games left: home against conference co-leader Purdue and at Maryland. A split in those games and a win in the first round of the Big Ten tourney should be enough to get in comfortably. Anything more will certainly be enough. Anything less might leave them needing some St. Patrick's Day luck on Selection Sunday.

The Gophers will finish no worse than eighth in the Big Ten and are likely headed for a single bye and the 8-9 matchup in the conference tournament, possibly against Illinois or Rutgers. Minnesota split with both Illinois and Rutgers during the regular season — part of the reason their tourney perch is precarious right now.

The opportunity is there. We'll see if the Gophers can seize it.

Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. michael.rand@startribune.com.