Gophers get a no. 5 seed in NCAA tournament

The Men’s basketball team will play 12th seeded Middle Tennessee State Thursday.

The Minnesota men’s basketball team earned a No. 5 seed for the NCAA tournament and will play 12th-seeded Middle Tennessee State on Thursday at 3 p.m. in Milwaukee.

Of the seven Big Ten teams selected to play in the tournament, the Gophers — one year removed from an eight-win season — were the second highest seeded team from the conference.

“When you have these type of selection shows, you don’t really have a preference who you play,” head coach Richard Pitino told the media. “But you have a preference where you play, and I always circled Milwaukee as a place our great fans could come.”

Pitino was also recently named the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

The bid marks the first time since 2013 the Gophers will play in the NCAA tournament. The tournament appearance is also the first in Pitino’s head coaching career.

Middle Tennessee upset No. 2 seed Michigan State in the first round of the tournament last year.

Gophers Guard Akeem Springs will miss the tournament due to a torn Achilles Tendon. Springs was a starter in the Gophers’ front court for much of the season.

He leads the team in 3-point field goals.

This season, Minnesota had the largest one-year win turnaround of any program.

Guard Nate Mason, who played on the team that was 8-23 last season, said it was a struggle until now.

“From what we came from my first two years, just to see our name on that screen, it’s amazing,” Mason told reporters.