The Gophers are getting better, and so is their non-conference season.

Just a few weeks ago, the Golden Gophers lost to St. John’s, after dominating the first three quarters of the game. The season looked over at that point. The Red Storm looked awful, and the Gophers looked worse. Flash forward to the present, and it is a whole new world. Ken Pomeroy’s computers are spitting out an 11-7 Big Ten record, which would be a tie for third in the Big Ten, and have the Gophers ranked 23rd in the country. The decidedly more human folks at CBS Sports have the Gophers ranked 24th. St. John’s, which looked awful, actually has one of the best defenses in the country, and is ranked 26th by KenPom, 13th by CBS Sports, 20th by the AP, and 23rd by the coaches. Georgia, which seemed just as bad as the Gophers, if not worse, has an RPI in the top 50, and in terms of RPI, Minnesota’s win over the Bulldogs is the Big Ten’s 8th best win this season. Combined with no horrible losses, which are mounting around the Big Ten, and the non-conference season is going well. However, I’m not convinced that the people who declared the Gophers to be terrible after the St. John’s game are wrong. The Gophers are just getting better…

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An open letter to the Big Ten: How to survive a terrible basketball season.

I feel for Michigan these days. The whole state. It’s hard when one of the football teams and both basketball teams play poorly.The state of Michigan isn’t alone, with Purdue, Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern, Rutgers, Nebraska, and probably others also suffering some strange defeats. We understand this in Minnesota. I use basketball as a coping mechanism to survive winter. But Minnesota basketball (heck, Minnesota sports in general, excluding the Lynx) isn’t really a great way to boost one’s mood during a cold and dark season. So we need coping mechanisms that help us survive basketball, and by extension, winter. Here are some tips for getting through a disappointing basketball season:

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After long break, Gophers roll Seattle U

Even in a 92-57 blowout, the score didn’t do anything justice, as the Gophers returned from a long finals break showing no rust and completely steamrolled the Redhawks from Seattle University. In fact, steamroll isn’t probably strong enough. The Gophers ran circles around Seattle, stealing the ball at will and getting out in transition better than they maybe ever have. There was even this: Anytime you get Charles Buggs throwing down a reverse alley-oop then things are going extraordinarily well. Even Bakary Konate got in…

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Two new players should get plenty of chances when the Gophers play Seattle.

Over the last several seasons, it wasn’t truly basketball season until the Golden Gophers unexpectedly lost a player to injury, transfer, or worse. This season, the unexpected departure was matched with two mid-season additions, as Gaston Diedhiou was finally admitted to the University of Minnesota, and Mike Lukashewich joined the team as a walk-on guard. Both might be nothing more than warm bodies at this point. However, those warm bodies give the Gophers some emergency depth in case of injury, and extra players in practice. The addition of Diedhiou is especially important, giving the Gophers a back-up forward who at least looks like he should be playing in the paint.

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Josh Martin, we hardly knew ye

What was your favorite Josh Martin moment? Was it his season high 15 minutes against Franklin Pierce? Maybe it was the lone three-pointer he missed against Western Kentucky. The two blocks against St. John’s? Are these even ringing a bell? On Monday, without the courtesy to even tell his teammates that he was on his way out, Josh Martin made the heavy decision to call it quits at the University of Minnesota and head to greener pastures. Life, I guess, was so unbearable on an…

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Gophers flatten North Dakota, face Southern before finals.

There is an old adage in basketball that when two teams play the same way, the more talented team always wins. North Dakota tried to run with the Gophers on Monday night, and they couldn’t keep up. The Gophers forced turnovers on 34% of the unnamed team’s possessions, shot 64% on two pointers, 50% of three pointers, had only 12 turnovers themselves, and won 92-56. It was as close to a complete performance as we’ve seen so far this season, which is encouraging since the team didn’t seem distracted by the news of Josh Martin’s departure.

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Gophers hope for more boring basketball against North Dakota

The Golden Gophers gauntlet of guarantee games continues on Monday night, when a nameless team from Grand Forks comes to town.The “guarantee” of the guarantee games does not refer to the outcome of the game, but to the amount of money earned by the team that is supposed to lose. Every once in awhile, the team that is supposed to lose doesn’t get it right, and wins. Saturday was a rough day for the Big Ten, as Michigan State and Purdue lost to the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Northern Florida respectively. Many have complained that the Gophers non-conference schedule is boring. If it is boring, that means things are going well.

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Gophers pull away down the stretch in 20-point win over Western Carolina

The Gophers won what was probably one of the closest 20-point victories you’ll ever see against the Western Carolina Catamounts Friday night, 84-64. Up by only one point at halftime, the Gophers had trouble getting into a flow on offense and fell victim to Western Carolina’s hot shooting, led largely by James Sinclair, who seemingly couldn’t miss. Further, the Gophers lacked energy and urgency, which prevented much of the cohesion necessary to string together some competent play and put WCU away early. Of course, that’s…

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What to watch while the Gophers are winning.

The competitive portion of the non-conference Golden Gopher basketball season is over. The Gophers have four weeks and six games to prepare themselves for the Big Ten season. Thanks to wins over Georgia and Wake Forest, the Gophers should still have a reasonable chance to make the NCAA tournament with a 9-9 or 10-8 conference record, if they can improve enough to do so.

The next six games aren’t about the Gophers opponents at all. If any of the opponents are competitive, and if a game is ever in doubt, something has been horrible. Western Carolina, Friday’s opponent, is the best of a group of bad teams, and they already have losses to Charleston Southern and East Tennessee State, this season. The next six games are all about the Gophers solidifying their strengths, fixing or at least hiding their weaknesses, and solidifying line-ups.

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52-point second half keys true road win for Gophers

For the first 20 minutes of Minnesota’s portion of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge it looked like the same under-achieving team that had somehow become the new normal was once again taking the floor. With faulty ballhandling and an inability to maintain momentum, the Gophers looked just as lost in the half-court offense as they had in both games out in New York City. But behind a raucous 2nd half that saw 52 points and hot shooting from Andre Hollins, the Gophers jumped out to a…

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