The Sixth seeded Minnesota Gophers Women's Basketball Team will look to try and improve their NCAA Tournament seed as they begin play in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday night. The Gophers will play #14 seed Purdue who defeated #11 Wisconsin on Wednesday night. The Gophers opening round game will tip off approximately 8:30 and will air live on BTN. The winner will advance to play #3 Ohio State at approximately 8:30 Friday night in the quarterfinals.
The Gophers have not had an exceptional Big Ten Tournament history. The program has a career 7-20 record with only one appearance in the championship game in 2005.
The Gophers and Purdue split their season series. The Gophers won the first game 81-68 at Purdue in January. it was the first win for the Gophers in nine season in West Lafayette. Shae Kelley led the Gophers in scoring with 22 points, while Amanda Zahui B had a complete game with 20 points, 19 rebounds, five blocks and four assists. In the game at Williams Arena three weeks later, Purdue got revenge winning 90-88 in overtime. The Gophers had one of their worst first halves of the season giving up 50 points and trailing by 11 at the break. They clawed back to force overtime before falling in the extra session. Zahui B led the Gophers with 26 points in a school record perfect 11-11 night from the field. She was held to only 11 rebounds however.
If the Gophers can get past the Boilermakers, the rest of their bracket is a favorable matchup. The Gophers would play Ohio State in the quarterfinals. In their only game against the Buckeyes this season, the Gophers won 76-72 in Columbus. Kelley led the Gophers with a great game tallying 29 points and 18 rebounds in the win. Zahui B only played 24 minutes due to foul trouble as well. The Gophers could not have asked for a more favorable quarterfinal opponent.
If the Gophers can get past the Buckeyes, their luck continues. Instead of drawing either Maryland or Northwestern who the Gophers struggled with this season, their likely semifinal opponent would be #2 seed Iowa. The Gophers went 1-1 against the Hawkeyes this season winning at home, and dropping a tough game in Iowa City in the regular season finale. However, the Gophers know they can in fact beat Iowa, so it is not an insurmountable task. The semifinal game would also air on BTN at approximately 8:30 Saturday night.
if the Gophers would make it to the Big Ten Championship Game, then the task gets much tougher. #1 Seed Maryland went undefeated in the Big Ten this season and is one of the top 10 teams in the nation. The Gophers dropped a tough loss 77-73 at home to the Terrapins early in the season. The Gophers also could see #4 seed Northwestern if they can pull the upset on Maryland. That task does not get any easier for the Gophers as they were run out of the gym in Evanston losing by 21 to the Wildcats in the regular season.
The Gophers have the potential to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament, but it will not be easy in any form. after the Big Ten Tournament, the Gophers will have a week off for the rest of the conference tournaments before the NCAA Tournament seedings and matchups are announced on Monday March 16th.
Good luck to the Gophers!
#6 Minnesota (22-8 11-7 B1G) vs #14 Purdue (11-19 3-15 B1G)
Gametime: Approximately 8:30 PM
Stream: BTN 2 GO
Radio: ESPN 1500
Live Stats: Here