clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Gophers open up March Madness against Texas in First Four

Happy to be there, the Gophers will fight for the right to take on Auburn in the “real” tournament

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Oklahoma Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you have been living in a cave you know this is obviously not a serious post....but just roll with it K?

A miraculous run through the Big Ten Tournament secured the final spot in the NCAA Tournament for the Gophers, who flipped a switch and blew through some of the best teams in the conference across five consecutive days. It was a ridiculous stretch, to say the least. Have we caught our breath yet?

Well there’s no time for that, because as a reward for being the 68th team invited to the tournament the Gophers get to play in the First Four, which means that you actually have an asterisk next to your name because, c’mon, you aren’t really in the tournament yet.

Their opponent? None other than the Texas Longhorns, who did just enough in the regular season and snuck away with a win over Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament to eke into the Dayton as well. To be quite clear, after what Minnesota went through the past five days they have to be licking their chops to be playing a Longhorns team that isn’t altogether that intimidating when you really look at it.

And the story lines are already coming together. The last time these two teams met? 2009 in the NCAA Tournament when Texas, a 7 seed, beat 10-seed Minnesota who was coached by Tubby Smith. Time for a little retribution. Also, the Longhorns are coached by Shaka Smart, who was on the Minnesota radar as a coaching candidate to replace Smith before Richard Pitino came to town. The plot thickens. And the winner gets a vulnerable Auburn team.

Essentials:

Opponent:

Texas Longhorns (20-12)

Date and Time:

Tuesday, March 17 @ 6 p.m. CT

Location:

UD Arena (Dayton, OH)

TV:

ESPN

Radio:

KTLK 103.5-FM

Tell me more about the opponent.

The Longhorns have hung their hat all year on defense, which is important because their offense is not very good, as evidenced by their #153 ranking in KenPom. They turn the ball over a ton, don’t grab offensive rebounds, don’t get to the line a ton and can’t shoot well from it when they do. Daniel Oturu and Gabe Kalscheur should have field days.

Defensively, however, they are stout. Jericho Sims is a best down low, averaging 10 points per game, 8 rebounds and more than a block per game. I mean, he’s no Oturu, but who is?

And until their loss to Oklahoma State to wrap up the regular season, Texas hadn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 58 points in a game in five straight games. They love to grind it out and and are extremely happy to slow the game down. Classic Shaka Smart team.

Offensively, Matt Coleman III leads the way with 12.7 points per game, while Andrew Jones (11.5) and Courtney Ramey (10.9) round out the double digit scorers.

Predictions

The Gophers get one day off but then it’s back to the grind, and they will play their sixth game in seven days. The Longhorns will be well rested, but also potentially emotionally uninvested. If Minnesota can continue its hot shooting they can beat anyone, but with Texas slowing the game down they can quickly fall into that trap and be pulled out of their game.

Still, I like the Gophers to respond well to some different competition and handle the Longhorns by six. Let’s roll.