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Golden Nugz for 3.16.09

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It took two years for the Golden Gophers to go from Big Ten laughingstock and perennial bottom-feeder to a national player. It's old news by now, but the Gophers were pegged by the NCAA selection committee as a 10 seed and will face 7 seeded Texas in Greenboro, NC on Thursday. Whether or not the Gophers make a run, just having their name announced by Greg Gumbel on Sunday evening is a sure indicator that Tubby Smith has the program headed in the right direction.

This is one of those times when I think it's OK for a program to be happy that it simply made it. The game against Texas is winnable, and a subsequent match-up with Duke would be highly intriguing, but no matter the final results, the experience this week will be great for the confidence of a very young team.

Here's what Damian Johnson said after seeing the Gophers on the board.

“I was surprisingly one of the most nervous people. I saw Maryland make it and then saw Arizona get in. I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it at that point since we were in the same position as those guys. Once we found out, everyone went crazy. I think there were some people body slamming each other out of excitement and it was just pure happiness.”

Below this post GN has a quick first take on the Texas-Minnesota match-up. We'll have more coverage as your online basketball home for the Gophers all week.

Here's a link to the full bracket if you haven't printed one out to play with yet.

  • The Sporting News previews the Minnesota-Texas first round tilt and says the Gophers will win if Devron Bostick continues to emerge offensively but doesn't make himself a defensive liability. That might be right. If the Gophers had a capable offensive option to go along with Lawrence Westbrook, we'd be a much better team.
  • Dime Magazine picks Texas v. Minnesota as one of the tournament's best first round match-ups because of Tubby Smith vs. Rick Barnes. The article frames it as great recruiter (Barnes) against great gameday coach (Smith).
  • It was a big weekend for Minnesota sports. We posted below about the success of the hockey teams. But it also needs to be noted that the baseball team took a series from #11 TCU this weekend. That marks the first time since 2005 that the Gophres have taken a series from a nationally ranked opponent. Great work. More here.
  • In the Charlotte News & Observer Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski claims to "love" the Big Ten before suggesting the ACC should get more bids to the tournament. If people don't like the Big Ten getting bids in the NCAA Tournament, then maybe they should beat us at a higher rate during the non-conference slate. And, I'm thinking Big Ten teams are going to love being out of the sluggish Big Ten conference. I will bet anyone that the tournament teams from the B10 will shoot a higher field goal percentage this weekend then they have in months.
  • Football fans, you'll enjoy going over to this blog by a Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette columnist who has a little fun with Tim Brewster for deciding not to have the spring game in the Metrodome after losing their 55-0 during the regular season finale against the Hawkeyes.
  • Incoming Gopher PG, Justin Cobbs, scored 31 points and hit six threes in the double OT Regional Championship.  The win puts his Bishop Montgomery team in the Class IV State Championship game.
  • Expect a lot of this type of coverage that notes how Tubby Smith has turned around a Minnesota program in disarray while his former stomping ground, Kentucky, is going in a different direction.
  • Finally, I received an email talking about a Goldy Tryout. Is this true? Are there tryouts to be Goldy? Anyone know anything about this?