Gophers Season on the Line Sunday vs Rutgers; and Possibly Pitino’s Job

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Right now, I imagine Richard Pitino waking up in a movie scene. 

He opens is eyes and blinks a couple of times, as the piano finishes the open of the greatest hype song of all-time. Then, right when he sits up, you hear it…

“…dun dun DUN dun dun dun DUN dun dun dun DUN dun dun dun DUN….”

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Sure, I love Eminem and “Lose Yourself” pops into my head a lot when I think about pressure situations. If you grew up in the 90’s-00’s then you probably struggle with the same disorder. If not, I’m sorry. But the song fits even better today, as Richard Pitino’s life soundtrack.

I’d imagine he’s wanting to puke up whatever he’s eaten in the last 24 hours, as he tries to hide his nerves from his players. He knows his season is on the line today. I’m sure most of them, especially the older ones, can see through it. They probably feel the same way.

Early this evening, the Gophers will square off on the East coast against a Rutgers team that’s not playing its usual role as B1G punching bag this season. In fact, they sit just 2 wins behind the Gophers in-conference and while they won’t make the tournament this season, there is hope in New Jersey for the future of the Scarlet Knights. 

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Hope is a lot more than they’ve been able to cling to since joining the B1G in 2014-15, where they’ve since built a meager 14-74 conference record. In fact, one more win this season would give Rutgers six conference victories in 2018-19, doubling their best conference win total prior to this season.

The Gophers stand at 17-10 on the season and 7-9 in the B1G. With just 4 games left to play, they need to find a way to 20 wins in order to get into the NCAA Tournament. They have this game against Rutgers tonight, then Northwestern (12-15 | 3-13) on Thursday to finish out February. They NEED to win both games because, before the B1G tournament starts in mid-March, they’ll first host Purdue before traveling to Maryland to finish the regular season. Both teams are currently ranked in the top-25 nationally.

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Joe Lunardi still has the Gophers hanging on to one of the last at-large bids to the dance, but a loss in either of the next two games will get them booted. However, if the Gophers can keep their cool this week, and beat two teams they are better than, then they will be confident and pressure-free playing as an underdog to finish the season vs Purdue and Maryland. If they can pull the upset in either of those games, they’ll be guaranteed a spot in the dance. If they lose both, they’d still get to lucky number 20, as long as they don’t get upset in their first B1G Tournament game.

If the team can put a “2” in front of their W column before NCAA Tournament seeds are issued, they’ll be dancing. If not, they won’t. It’s become that simple…….. unless they lose one of the next two and then start upsetting teams to finish the year…. then all of this is out the window.

Dance or Move on for Richard

If the Gophers don’t make the tournament, it’s time to get rid of Richard Pitino. Too much of the failure this season has been due to his in-game adjustments (or lack thereof) and offensive scheme. He hasn’t helped with his recruiting either, where he only has one commit for the 2019 class (who he almost lost) and empty cupboards for 2020. He’s had a plethora of in-state talent to choose from too.

It’s time for Little Richard to prove himself beyond the greatness of his last name.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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