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Minnesota Women’s Basketball: Gophers Defeat Illinois 84-75 to Clinch Double Bye

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The Gophers clinched their best regular season finish since 2008

Carlie Wagner had a double-double to clinch the Gophers double bye
gophersports.com

The Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s basketball team defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini 84-75 in Champaign Sunday to clinch a 4th place finish in the Big Ten and a coveted double bye in the Big Ten Tournament that begins this week. Minnesota finishes the regular season with a 22-7 overall record and a 11-5 record in Big Ten play.

Kenisha Bell led the Gophers with 24 points and added seven assists, five rebounds and three steals. Senior Carlie Wagner added one more double-double to her career totals when she finished with 21 points and a career high 11 rebounds. Taiye Bello also added 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds which tied for the most by a Gopher in a game this season.

For her combined efforts against Illinois and in her home finale against Indiana, Wagner was named to this week’s Big Ten Honor Roll.

The Gophers will be the #4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play their first game against either #5 Iowa Hawkeyes, #12 Northwestern Wildcats or #13 Wisconsin Badgers at approximately 1:30 PM on Friday in Indianapolis. The Gophers went 1-0 against Northwestern, 2-0 against Wisconsin and 1-1 against Iowa in the regular season.

The full Big Ten Tournament bracket is below:

The 2017-18 Big Ten awards will be announced Monday afternoon and its expected that Destiny Pitts will be named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Pitts, Wagner and Bell should all be named to one of the All-Big Ten teams as well.

Despite the Gophers record this season, they still appear to be on the NCAA Tournament bubble. ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme has the Gophers as one of his last four teams in the tournament, along with Big Ten foes Purdue and Rutgers. As of today Creme has the Gophers as a #10 seed playing #7 seed Green Bay in Columbia, South Carolina. The winner would most likely get #2 seed South Carolina in the round of 32.

While Minnesota might not need to get at least one win in the Big Ten Tournament to get in the big dance, it wouldn’t hurt anything and would probably let the Gophers rest a bit easier come selection Monday.