Basketball season may be over for the Gophers but March Madness is in full swing so let's look back at the first time Minnesota made it to the dance.
Gophers warm up before beating Michigan St 67-57 on January 22, 1972. Via U of M.
The NCAA Basketball Tournament began in 1939 but the first 33 tournaments happened without the Gophers. Winning the Big Ten was a prerequisite to being invited in those days, something Minnesota didn't do from 1937 until 1972.
Jim Brewer going UP January 25, 1972 vs Ohio St. Via MNHS
Minnesota won the Big Ten regular season title in 1972 behind that years conference MVP, Jim Brewer, and future Hall of Fame Baseball player Dave Winfield. Coach Mussleman in his first year with the team had already caught beef with the Big Ten for recruiting bad boy Ron Behagen. Other than making it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time, the 1971-72 season is usually remembered for the Ohio State brawl.
Meeting the Gophers in Dayton, Ohio for the first game of the tournament was Florida State who blew out Minnesota 56-70 while on their way to being that years runners up to UCLA. You might think that would have been the end of their season, but strangely Minnesota then played in a "regional 3rd place game" against Marquette.
This 1971-72 team photo has its swag very much on 100. Via U of M
The Gophers and the Warriors (as they were then known) had already played that season. On December 21, 1971 Minnesota traveled to Milwaukee to play second ranked Marquette, the Gophers lost that game 40-55. In the regional third place game Mussleman's team, with stout defense and relying on Brewer for offense, pulled off the upset winning 77-72.
The 1972 season is a high point in terms of the programs history. The Gophers have only won 2 Big Ten titles since (1982 AND 1997). YEAH I KNOW 1997 DOESN'T COUNT BUT THE NCAA CAN'T TAKE AWAY MY MEMORIES.
Which brings me to something I say every March Madness: screw you Jan Ganglehoff.
Dope Program from the first game of the 1972-73 season. Check out Goldy with the trophy. Via U of M