Slide likely means seeding slip

Minnesota has lost five of its past seven games, and is now projected as a 10th seed in the NCAAs.

Emily Wickstrom

After losing five of its past seven games, Minnesota’s women’s basketball team has its fair share of critics.

Tuesday’s edition of ESPN.com’s Bracketology has the Gophers as a projected No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament with the comment, “No team in the bracket slid as badly as the Gophers.”

Some have even suggested Minnesota doesn’t belong in the NCAA at all, especially after Friday’s embarrassing loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.

The Gophers now have a week and a half until March 18 to prepare for the NCAA Tournament and get back on track. Their early season success will likely earn them a bid, despite their recent slide.

This season, the women’s NCAA Tournament field will be announced on Monday a change from past years when it was announced Selection Sunday with the men’s team.

Gophers coach Pam Borton said she thinks the criticism of her team is blown out of proportion.

“I think everybody needs to put things in perspective as far as where our basketball team is at right now,” Borton said. “We finished tied for third place in the Big Ten Ö we got 19 wins.

“We’re a great basketball team Ö we know we’ve got the talent, we know we’ve got the tools to put things together.”

After a four-game losing streak caused Minnesota to drop drastically in the national rankings, the Gophers blew a second chance to improve their NCAA seed when they lost in their first game of the Big Ten Tournament.

Borton acknowledged Friday that the loss to Indiana likely hurt Minnesota’s seeding.

“We didn’t put ourselves in a very good situation,” Borton said, but added, “I think we’ll be a good Cinderella going into the tournament.”

Despite dealing with a low seed, the Gophers will also have to worry about playing on the road at an unfamiliar site – different from recent years when they haven’t had to travel at all.

The past two NCAA Tournaments, Minnesota’s path has been easier with Williams Arena as a host site and home court advantage in the first and second rounds.

“We’re not used to not really knowing at all where we’re going to be sent or what seed we’re going to be,” senior guard Shannon Schonrock said. “But we’re not necessarily going to focus on that or worry about that these next two weeks. It’s all about getting ready for tournament time.”

Junior forward Jamie Broback said it will be difficult for the Gophers to get their confidence back, but they have to remember their past successes.

“The Indiana game was obviously rough for us,” Broback said. “Coming into these practices after a loss we just have to come in knowing we’re a great team Ö our team with our experience, we know we can get it done.”