Unless you have been living in a cave you know this is obviously not a serious post....but just roll with it K?
A win in the First Four counts as a real win in the NCAA Tournament, right? If so, then the Gophers are 1-0 in the Big Dance as they flew past the Texas Longhorns by 14 points, 72-58 in the opening Tuesday of the tournament in Dayton. With the win, Minnesota gets the right to face the fifth-seeded Auburn Tigers on Thursday in the “second” round of the NCAA Tournament.
Leading by four at halftime 34-30, the Gophers stymied the Longhorn offense in the second half while using a key 13-0 run midway through to take a backbreaking 17-point lead that Texas would never recover from. Minnesota held a weak Longhorn offense to just 27% shooting from the field and forced 12 turnovers in the victory.
Marcus Carr had a rare off night, going just 2-9 from the field and scoring five points, but it was an unfamiliar face that led the way in the opening tourney game. Isaiah Ihnen had a true coming out party, scoring 21 points and going 8-13 from the field, including hitting five three-pointers. The freshman had been looking better and better as the season wore on but it was tonight that he truly came to party.
Daniel Oturu had trouble getting going early but ended up with a quiet 18 points and 12 rebounds. However, his best work was standing up junior PF Jericho Sims, who got into early foul trouble and was never a factor, attempting just five shots and scoring only four points. Gabe Kalscheur rounded out the double-digit scorers, scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds.
The Gophers had faced a Big Ten gauntlet in their previous four games, but the Longhorns were technically the lowest-rated non-Nebraska/Northwestern KenPom team Minnesota had faced since they played Florida International in December, which should give you an idea of just how good the Big Ten is this year.
Next up is Auburn, who is 26-7 on the season and fell to LSU in the SEC semifinals. The Tigers started off the year 15-0 but ended the season losing five of their last nine, so they are definitely a vulnerable five seed.
Plus, as you know, a 12-seed pulls the upset every season, right?