Unless you have been living in a cave you know this is obviously not a serious post....but just roll with it K?
It feels like something big has been accomplished but then you look at the rest of the Big Ten Tournament bracket and recognize that there is still a long ways to go for the Gophers if they want to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Such is life when you start on Wednesday.
Minnesota won a wild one against Iowa to get some redemption, thanks to a monster second half performance from Daniel Oturu and some late-game heroics. It was a promising sign for a team that had so many second half let downs this season. Instead, they rose to the occasion and came up big in crunch time.
But it’s time to forget all that, because just 24 hours later they’ve got a date with the Illinois Fighting Illini, who are fresh, rested and having a really good season. For the Gophers, it represents another opportunity to get that much closer to improbably running the table and getting into the Big Dance. But a third game in three days is also super daunting for a team with no bench. Here we go.
Illinois Fighting Illini (13-7, 21-10)
Date and Time:
Friday, March 13 @ 5 p.m. CT
Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN)
Tell me more about the opponent.
The Gophers faced Illinois just once this season, and it was on the road in Champaign in late January. That wasn’t a fun game, and Minnesota was never really in it. The Illini promptly went on a four-game losing streak after that but have rebounded to finish the season by winning five of their last six. The 4th seed in the tournament, they’re a steady team led by phenom Ayo Dosunmo and freshman standout Kofi Cockburn.
Dosunmo is fifth in the conference in scoring, averaging 16.6 points per game, while Cockburn (13.3) and guard Andres Feliz (11.0) round out those averaging in double figures. Cockburn is a dual threat, and is sixth in the conference in rebounding.
The Illini pull down a ton of offensive boards, which is an area of weakness for the Gophers. Still, it was Minnesota’s shooting woes that eventually did them in last time around, not necessarily the Illinois offense that killed them.
The Gophers looked like they actually had some life against Iowa, which is promising. They’re now on their third game in three days and both Oturu and Marcus Carr played nearly the entire game against Iowa. Can their legs hold up?
What the hell, I’ll take the Gophers by four.