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:
Once upon a time, before we had to remember how to find TruTv or learn of the existence of Lizard Lick Towing, every NCAA tournament game was on CBS. The scheduling types did their best to show games that would interest the audience, usually using geography as their guiding criteria. This meant that Big Ten games were usually on WCCO in Minneapolis, but it also meant that it was impossible to watch the lastest Cinderella hoping for an upset while a highly seeded Big Ten team was curb-stomping some hyphenated state school that no one had every heard of. It could be maddening, but it could also be magical. Because when the powers that be decided a game was out of hand, there was “whip around” coverage, a frantic effort to show as much of the last few seconds of as many games as possible. There was no way to predict what game would be shown, but there was sure to be drama and excitement. It was many shining moments back to back to back. In the Lizard Lick Towing era, it is all too easy to flip on your own to the right game at the right time, but all too difficult to know what game to watch before the waning moments of the latest upset.
Two historical footnotes were working against the Gophers on Saturday as they traveled to East Lansing to take on Michigan State: 1) they hadn’t won at MSU since 1997; and 2) they hadn’t beaten a top-5 team in a true road in the history of the program. Those are impressive numbers. So it’s no surprise that expectations were low heading into the game, as Minnesota sought to do something the program had never accomplished. But instead of rolling over and spotting Michigan State a quick…
The next four Golden Gopher basketball games will not be for the faint of heart. After three straight games decided by three points, the Gophers start a stretch of four straight games against ranked teams, the first such four game stretch since 1996. The bad news is that these will likely be losses, and at least one of them is bound to be ugly. The good news is that the Gophers won’t hurt their NCAA tournament chances if they lose all of them, and will significantly improve their chances if they win any of them. The rough stretch starts Saturday afternoon at Michigan State.
At about this time last year, the Big Ten was widely considered to be the best conference in America. The Gophers were on the verge of being a top ten team, and Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State all looked like national title contenders. The big questions entering the conference season involved how many Big Ten teams would make the final four. After a good but not great non-conference season, college basketball pundits are left with the much more pedestrian question of what various teams need to do just to make the NCAA tournament.
Instead of throwing out conference record predictions, or NCAA tournament seed projection, we’ll look at the non-conference performance of each Big Ten team, and the worst possible Big Ten record that could get each team in the tournament. That way, when your team starts struggling, you’ll know when to get nervous, and ultimately when to stop caring. In Minnesota, we have a word for this: February.
The Big Ten’s single-play match-ups for the 2013-2o14 season leaked today, and the Golden Gophers should benefit from their schedule. They didn’t quite win the lottery like Wisconsin did (really, playing Michigan State and Ohio State only once, and both games at home). However, they do play some very good teams only once and get two cracks at bad teams. More importantly, rivalries will be preserved. The Gophers will play Indiana and Illinois at home, and won’t play either team on the road. Neither Illinois…
We’re in the middle of perhaps the most exciting time in recent Gopher hoops memory, and nothing gets the blood pumping like a good, ol’ fashioned coaching search. And while rumors will swirl, flights will be tracked, and TMZ will seem tame, I think it’s important to take a minute to revisit the highs and lows of the Tubby Smith era and why we’re in this coaching search to begin with. The last six years were met with amazing peaks with wins over some of…
Day one of the Big Ten tournament is in the books with one surprise but a few good finishes. Now the top teams in the conference take the floor for what should be a thrilling afternoon and night.
If the Minnesota Golden Gophers are in the market for a new head coach,there will be no shortage of valuable candidates. Earlier this week we looked at potential coaches with local ties. Just like there is an unfounded assumption that the next head coach of the Gophers has local ties, there is an assumption that the next coach is currently a head coach. We’ll look at those candidates later. For now, we’ll look at current assistant coaches from around the country who could on day coach the Gophers.
And now, for one night only, the Golden Gophers can play some consequence-free basketball against the Michigan State Spartans. Two wins last week gave the Gophers a bit of breathing room. Losing five out of six games would have put the Gophers squarely on the bubble, or even the wrong side of the bubble, and Wednesday evening’s game in East Lansing would have been a true must-win. As a team, Minnesota is not the most mentally stable, and their decision making leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t want to think about how the team would likely react in a pressure-cooker of a game in a mad house like the Breslin Center. Instead, the Gophers can play like they have something to prove without dire consequences if they do not, like New Year’s Eve when these two teams first met.