Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Daily Email Edition

Get MN Daily NEWS delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday!


Gophers men’s basketball balancing postseason hopes on moral victories

The Gophers dropped a Quadrant 1 game against Nebraska, calling into question their post-season eligibility.
Image by David Stager
The Gophers fell from No. 74 to No. 78 in the NCAA NET rankings after losing to Nebraska.

The Gopher’s men’s basketball team hit a wall on Sunday after two confidence-building Big Ten wins.

Morale was high for the Gophers going into their match against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. However, with his team trailing by eight at halftime, Gophers head coach Ben Johnson said their physicality was nowhere close to matching the Cornhuskers’.

Johnson said the Gophers struggled to finish under the hoop and forced too many jump shots, and he credited a lot of his team’s mistakes to the Cornhuskers’ execution.

“That’s what a possessed team looks like and feels like,” Johnson said.

The Gophers’ struggle to execute with intensity for two halves has haunted them in critical game situations throughout the season.

The Gophers shot 9% from beyond the 3-point line and 28% from the field in the first half. These numbers are a sharp contrast to their second half, scoring 35% from the field and 42% in 3-point field goals.

Freshman Cam Christie was the team’s leading scorer on Sunday and gathered all his 14 points in the second half.

Minnesota saw another collapse in a single half on Feb. 18 against Rutgers. Their 17-point lead quickly fell to six late in the game. The terrors subsided when the Gophers went nine for 10 in free throws while limiting the Scarlet Knights offense.

“I feel like defense is the name of the game, and if we can play defense we have a high chance of winning,” sophomore Pharrel Payne said.

Junior Elijah Hawkins complemented Payne’s career-high night after the game, speaking to the versatility of the team and Payne’s performance.

“It’s anybody’s night, any day,” Hawkins said. “Today, it was Pharrel’s.”

Three days later, it was Hawkins’ night.

The transfer from Howard University put up a career-high 24 points for the Gophers against Ohio State.

The Gophers fell to Ohio State in their Big Ten opener while former Gopher Jamison Battle taunted the Gophers bench throughout the game. His return to Williams Arena on Thursday was met with fans booing him whenever he touched the ball.

Battle’s former teammate, Dawson Garcia, said getting a win over Battle and the Buckeyes was “nothing personal” but instead was “handling business as usual.”

The Gophers currently sit at No. 78 in the NET rankings after their loss to Nebraska. The team has a single Quadrant 1 victory on the season, against Michigan State, slimming their chances of receiving an NCAA tournament bid.

The NCAA defines a Quadrant 1 win as a home win against a team with a NET ranking of 1-30, a win against a 1-50 ranked team at a neutral location and a win against a 1-75 ranked team on the road. 

The Gophers can build their Quadrant 1 resume on Wednesday when they play Illinois on the road. 

For the Gophers to qualify for the NCAA tournament, the team needs to either win the Big Ten Tournament or get selected by the tournament selection committee. If the season ended on Tuesday, Minnesota would compete as the seventh seed against No. 10 Maryland in the second round of the Big Ten tournament.

According to the NCAA website, the committee “uses a multitude of stats and rankings” to determine which teams receive a bid but adds “there is no set formula that determines whether a team receives an at-large bid.” 

The challenge begins in less than a month at the Target Center, just four miles from the Gophers home court. 

Johnson said his team knows the schedule and what the future consists of, but they cannot change the outcome of what is ahead.

“The worst thing you want to do is worry so much about that that you forget about the only thing you can control, which is the right now,” Johnson said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Accessibility Toolbar

Comments (0)

All The Minnesota Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *