Step back from the ledge Gopher fans. These things happen. Teams have good nights and teams have bad nights. Occasionally, a team will have a bad night at the same time their opponent has a good night and the result isn’t pretty. Both Duke and Wake Forest had games as embarrassing as Minnesota’s blow out loss to Michigan State. If you take into account that the Blue Devils and Demon Deacons were supposedly the better teams, then Minnesota’s loss, as ugly as it was, pales in comparison to those losses by potential final four teams.
The Gophers were doomed before the game even started. Since Michigan State lost their second consecutive home game against Penn State last weekend, virtually any team they would have played at home would have been in deep trouble. If it looked like the Gophers were playing against 15 players at a time last night, they essentially were, playing against the Spartans and their channeled rage at being defeated by Northwestern and Penn State. The Gophers don’t match up well against Michigan State on a good day, or even when they can potentially sneak up on the Spartans like they nearly did twice last year. The Spartans were angry and ready to make a statement. They certainly did.
We knew Minnesota would be inconsistent. That doesn’t make their play as of late less infuriating or more predictable, but it does make it understandable. The Gophers are still a very, very young team. Only Jonathan Williams and Jamal Abu-Shamala have played meaningful minutes in front of the Izzone. Yes, the Gophers played at Michigan State last year, but it was during break, and the Michigan State faithful were not at their finest. On Wednesday night they were, and the Gophers were intimidated. Minnesota isn’t the first team to wilt under the pressure of having a chance to move into first place on the road, and they won’t be the last.