The Big Ten men's basketball season is a rugged affair, and it's only become more so this season with the expansion to a 20-game conference season.

A single game probably won't define a team's fate, but some are more important than others. The Gophers' 92-87 victory over Iowa on Sunday felt like it was "more important than others."

It boosted the Gophers to 5-4 in the conference, netted them a win over a ranked team and sent their RPI soaring from No. 40 to No. 30. With a home win over Illinois — a chance to avenge an ugly loss earlier this month — Minnesota would reach the midpoint of the Big Ten season at 6-4. From there, it might just take four more wins to get to the NCAA tournament.

Aspirations should be higher than just making it, but the only way to build gradual goals is to keep banking wins. Sunday was a big one, particularly with some tough second-half games looming.

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