I particularly liked this Bubble Watch post on ESPN yesterday...
Minnesota [16-7 (4-6), RPI: 23, SOS: 8] After a 15-2 start that featured some of the best per-possession defense in the country, plus back-to-back road wins at Purdue and Northwestern, the Golden Gophers have dropped five of their past six games and rank sixth in per-possession defense in Big Ten play (and 11th on offense). It will be fascinating to see where Minnesota goes from here. Before we do that, though, it's worth pausing for a moment of reflection: The same team that went 8-23 a season ago and spent much of the season mired in off-court issues and suspensions is 16-7 with lovely RPI and SOS numbers, no bad losses, and an excellent chance of getting into the NCAA tournament. It's a triumphant turnaround, whatever comes next.
and a little Northwestern Bubble watch for the fun of it. One of my favorite things is Northwestern being the only P5 team to never have played in the NCAA Tournament. No ill will towards the Cats, just an unique stat that I maliciously enjoy...
Northwestern [18-5 (7-3), RPI: 31, SOS: 119] Is this it? Is it going to happen? Is Northwestern's long institutional nightmare over? Will the suffering of the disproportionate share of sportswriters who attended NU finally cease? The answer is, yeah. Probably so! The Wildcats are far from safe at this point, particularly given that their nonconference schedule and lack of elite wins could put them at a glaring disadvantage in a head-to-head nitty-gritty comparison. But as long as the Wildcats don't totally pull an Iowa in the final month of the regular season, it shouldn't come to that. Chris Collins' team has already proved surprisingly durable on the road in conference play, a trait that could serve it well in trips to Indiana and Illinois in the season's final two weeks. In the meantime, they get a crack at Wisconsin on Sunday, followed by a home date with Maryland on Feb. 15, and they close with a March 5 game at home against Purdue. There are as many opportunities as travails on their schedule, and with 18 wins already -- again, just three away from an all-time record! -- the only major conference team never to play in the NCAA tournament has never been this close, this late. (No pressure.)
Back to Gopher news around the Webs.
- Pro Football Focus has Steven Richardson as the 4th best returning DT in the Big Ten.
- Yesterday’s Blogging the Bracket had the Gophers safely above the bubble fray as an 8-seed.
- NCAA Hockey bracketology has the Gophers as the 4th overall seed.
- At the moment, 3 of the 4 Gopher football players who were recommended for expulsion have made it official that they are leaving.
- Black Heart, Gold Pants takes a look at the interesting and crucial matchup of Iowa and Minnesota tonight.
- Springs and Amir Coffey talk Gopher Basketball goals.
- Colleagues remember Ray Christensen. A Gopher Great who never hit the field of competition, but he eloquently told us all about it.
- NCAA Football is likely to allow early official visits for football which is going to be a huge benefit to Big Ten schools.