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March Madness officially arrives this weekend and no Gopher game to watch...

March-madness4_mediumI am spending my Friday night at Target Center watching the Wolves vs. Portland (not by choice, I'm working the game). From a Gopher state of mind I do get to watch the Vanilla Gorilla play.  And now that I think about it this game will feature some of the best American born, white basketball players in the NBA.  Steve Blake, Joel Przybilla, Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, etc.  All we are missing is Wally.  Should be some outstanding basketball!

Saturday night I'm heading over to St. Thomas to watch Bethel try to beat the undefeated and #1 team in DIII, Tommies.  This I am excited for, I'm anticiapting a Tommie win but I'm most anxious to see UST as they are dominating just about everybody they play.  Their semi-final game in the conference tournament was a 40 point blowout over Gustavus.

But this is not a blog about MIAC hoops nor is it a blog about my weekend plans, this is a Gopher blog.  So even though the Gopher men are not playing this weekend that doesn't mean there are not games that have any significance for us.

Right now we are very likely the eighth team in the Big Ten.  Getting eight teams in is a possibility but not likely.  So the first thing we need to see is to see the right Big Ten teams lose this weekend...

  • Ohio State @  Purdue - both of these teams are probably in.  Ohio State could fall out with a string of losses so why not start now.  Go Pudue, but this game probably will not affect us in any way.
  • Indiana @ Penn State - this game could have big time implications.  If Indiana can pull off this upset that would easily drop Penn State behind us in the NCAA Tournament bid pecking order.  Go Hoosiers.
  • Michigan @ Wisconsin - Sunday's game is one where I'd like to see both teams lose.  If the loser of this game were also to lose to the Gophers is very well could knock them out.  Michigan has a lower RPI than we do and they are closer to the bubble than Wisconsin so I think that on Sunday we are Badger fans.

Lets assume the Big Ten can indeed get eight teams into the Tourney, what other games around the country will have an impact on the Gopher's post-season lives?

  • Utah @ BYU - It depends on where you look, some projections have the Cougars in and some have them as out.  They have a great RPI but we need them to lose to eliminate them altogether.  A home loss to the Utes is what we want to see here.
  • LSU @ Kentucky - Kentucky seems to be "in" right now but they have been jumping in and out all year.  A home loss would drop their already weak RPI further.  If we are going to be the 65th team to get in (or last at larger bid), wouldn't it be sweet if Kentucky was the first team to be left out?  Go Tigers!
  • San Diego State @ TCU - Saturday night we are Horned Frog fans.  SDSU is on the bubble and I'm confident we are above them on the list but let's not take any chances.
  • Nebraska @ Kansas St - Much like SDSU, I'm pretty sure we are "safer" than KSt, but again let's not take any chances.  A home loss to Nebraska would be impossible to recover from at this point.
  • Texas @ Oklahoma State - The Cowboys are in but their schedule gets tough with Texas, Kansas St and Oklahoma to finish the year.  Losing on Saturday just might be the three game losing streak to knock them out.  OK St has a very similar resume to the Gophers' so losing tomorrow should knock them down a notch.
  • Arizona @ Washington - With two consecutive losses this trip to Washington gets bigger for Arizona.  Washington is surprisingly leading the Pac-10 and now things may get dicey for the Wildcats.  RPI is currently 49 and falling below 50 is not a good sign.  Currently "in" but let's see a loss on Saturday and then see what happens.
  • Maryland @ NC State (Sunday) - this would likely be the nail in the coffin for Maryland.  Losing to a subpar NC State team would do nothing to bolster their resume and the ACC would drop to 7 bids.

There are more teams worth watching, we also need to see Temple, Rhode Island, Providence, UAB, Cincy and UNLV all lose.  Lundardi is currently the only projection I saw that had us out or even in the "last four in" and if we win our last couple games we won't even have to sweat on Selection Sunday.  But since we don't have a Gopher game to obsess over, obsess over the games above.