In hindsight, Minnesota’s Big Ten Tournament performance is about what we’d expect. They beat a pretty terrible Penn State team and lost to a pretty good Wisconsin team (though, I guess it was more of a beatdown, but I digress). What does that mean? Basically the status quo. The Gophers didn’t really improve their tournament resume, but they did nothing to discount it either.
Instead, the team must now play the waiting game, which means hoping that other teams on the bubble somehow discredit themselves in front of the committee and that no mid-major Cinderellas steal a bid during their conference tournaments. The former is becoming less and less likely as conference tournaments wind down, while only a couple teams remain that can cause trouble in mid-major land. More importantly, though, it means that Minnesota’s destiny in now in the hands of everyone except their own.
That’s a tough place to be, considering that a win over Wisconsin would have almost assuredly solidified the Gophers as a tournament-worthy team. And with the Gophers having been in control of their own postseason hopes up til now, having to rely on other teams to help out is a precarious position to be in.
Now, the Gophers can only stand by their current resume, which by most expert estimations puts them as one of the first couple teams left out of the tournament. A strong strength of schedule (thanks Maui!) and some strong wins out of conference give them a leg up on a few of the bubble teams, but the reality is they didn’t do enough in the conference season to really distinguish themselves on Selection Sunday. As of now, it really appears to be a 50/50 shot on whether or not they get into the Big Dance.
There are still a couple moving parts that can push them further down the totem pole as St. Bonaventure, NC State and Georgia each represent teams that can play their way into the tournament and steal a bid. But for the rest of the bubble, and especially the Gophers, it’s mostly a waiting game at this point.