The Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team has built quite the 2021 NCAA Tournament resume so far this season. They stand at 13-7 (6-7), play in the nation’s best conference and have a plethora of top-25 victories already stacked up.
But because Pitino’s squad is yet to win any games on the road (0-6), they remain an NCAA Tournament bubble team that is struggling to climb up the NET Rankings, which puts heavy emphasis on road wins.
According to TeamRankings.com, Minnesota will need to secure THREE more victories (16 total) to have any shot at qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. If they get FOUR more (17 total), they’ll all but clinch it.
Just SIX games remain on the regular season schedule, unless the Big Ten is able to reschedule their canceled game @ Nebraska.
— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) February 13, 2021
As of Saturday, TeamRankings.com gives the Gophers an 80% chance of dancing this March. Their most likely seed is #9 (12.1%).
Minnesota will probably have to break their winless streak on the road, where their easiest matchups remain (on paper), if they are going to dance in March. They have only three remaining home games and two will be played against ranked opponents (#6 Illinois, #25 Rutgers).
|3/3||@ Penn State|
Sunday @ Maryland
The Minnesota Gophers will have another shot to end their road losing streak on Sunday, when they head to the nation’s capitol to play the Maryland Terrapins. Maryland is a quality team and considered “quad 1” by the NET Rankings.
A win @ College Park would catapult the Gophers up the NET Rankings, where they currently sit 50th in the nation, and back into all NCAA Tournament conversations. Lose… and their dancing window will look that much tighter.
Remember, the Fighting Pitino’s (13-7) need 16 wins to have a chance and 17 wins to go ahead and order their dancing shoes. Only SIX games remain on the schedule (with a possibility of adding a seventh vs Nebraska).
If they can’t secure a bid before that, then they’ll rely on win or go home victories in the Big Ten Tournament. Let’s hope for my sanity that it doesn’t come to that.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan