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Elite Eight: Gophers get fourth shot at Spartans

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Having struck out three times, Minnesota will try to pull yet another upset

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Minnesota David Berding-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?

Seems like the Gophers do a lot of upsetting and a lot of winning these days, and I’m here for it. Just two days after taking down one of the nation’s best teams Minnesota heads right back out on the hardwood as a member of the final eight teams in the NCAA Tournament. It’s really quite something.

Three weeks ago the Gophers were dead in the water, fighting for just a gasp of a chance of making the postseason. Now they’re here, hoping to continue to topple the Goliaths of the tournament.

Standing in their way? None other than the Michigan State Spartans. Again. The Gophers have not fared well against Sparty this year. They lost both regular season games by healthy margins and were booted just a couple weeks ago in the Big Ten Tournament championship. MSU hasn’t been kind to Minnesota in general, actually. They’re just 2-10 against Michigan State in Richard Pitino’s career.

This must feel familiar to Minnesota, who at about this time last year was smarting from being run out of the tournament by Sparty in the second round. But you know what they say? It’s hard to beat the same team .. four .. times in a season, right? At least I think that’s how it goes. Nevertheless, the Gophers have seen the Spartans from several different angles this year and nearly took them down two weeks ago. They’re close and need revenge in more than one way.

Essentials:

Opponent:

Michigan State Spartans (27-9)

Date and Time:

Sunday, March 29 at 6:05 p.m. CT

Location:

Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)

TV:

CBS

Radio:

KFAN 100.3-FM

Tell me more about the opponent.

We know Sparty extremely well by now. They’re a very good team and are on a ten-game winning streak dating back to Feb. 20. Cassius Winston is averaging more than 18 points per game, Xavier Tillman is averaging a double-double, and Aaron Henry is pouring in 10 points per game. They’re deep, and as usual Tom Izzo has his guys playing super well in March.

The Spartans rolled through North Texas and Penn State before barely surviving an upstart Houston team to get here. They know what they are doing and have had the Gophers’s number all season. Nothing has changed. This is a team built for a deep tournament run.

But Minnesota has turned itself around by relying on steady play from Daniel Oturu and Marcus Carr, and has seen an additional weapon emerge in Isaiah Ihnen, who has suddenly learned how to score and has scored in double figures the entire tournament. It’s that additional depth that Minnesota will need if they want to finally topple this very fundamentally sound Spartan squad.

Predictions

At some point the Gophers will beat Michigan State right? Why not under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. I think a loose Minnesota team pulls the upset and waltzes into the Final Four. Gophers by a pair.