Gophers to host Green Bay in WNIT

Jack Satzinger

For about a month the Gophers searched for a signature win to bolster their NCAA Tournament résumé, but fell short. On February 20, they lost to No. 21 Purdue by double digits at home. Their next game was at a ranked Michigan State team, which beat the Gophers by 14. On March 7, Minnesota lost to No. 16 Nebraska by 13 in the Big Ten Tournament. 

After that game, Nebraska head coach Connie Yori told reporters the Gophers "need" to be in the NCAA Tournament field after finishing the season winning seven of their final ten games. But those seven wins came against the bottom feeders of the Big Ten while Minnesota lost to the conference's top talent — a theme for the season as a whole. 

Looking at the Gophers' solid RPI (47) and strength of schedule (22), Minnesota head coach Pam Borton thought they would get into the tournament for the first time in five years. But the Gophers' most impressive win of the season came against Chattanooga, a mere 11 seed in the tournament. 

That wasn't enough to vault Minnesota into the NCAA Tournament, but the Gophers have a consolation prize Wednesday when they'll host Green Bay in the first round of the WNIT. 

"I thought our team did everything it needed to do and was deserving of a bid into the NCAA Tournament, but sometimes things happen that are beyond our control," Borton said in a statement. "However, we are excited to keep playing basketball together and ready to compete for a championship."

Minnesota's Road

The Gophers are one of the favorites in the WNIT and could face some familiar foes if they make a deep run. Should Minnesota advance to the third round, it could meet Creighton. The Gophers lost to the Bluejays by double digits in November, but have improved substantially since then. 

If Minnesota advances to the fourth round of the tournament, there's potential for a matchup with Big Ten foes Northwestern or Indiana. The Gophers split their series with Indiana and swept Northwestern.